Finkenauer Leads More Than 40 House Members in Bipartisan Defense of Renewable Fuel Standard with Letter Asking President Trump to Deny Waiver Requests

June 8, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) on Monday continued bipartisan efforts to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), sending a letter to President Donald Trump demanding that his administration uphold the integrity of federal fuel standards.

Finkenauer led a bipartisan group of Midwest lawmakers on the letter, asking the president to deny any blanket requests for waivers from federal biofuel blending requirements. Joining her on the letter are Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Roger Marshall (KS-01), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and 39 other members.

"The effects of COVID-19, on top of the damage caused by abuse of the small refinery exemption waivers, have caused more than 150 biofuel plants to either completely or partially idle production,” the representatives wrote. “This means that over 50 percent of US ethanol production capacity has ceased operations, resulting in economic uncertainty for our rural economies and the loss of a critical market for corn farmers. At an already turbulent time for ethanol and biodiesel producers, we must take action to support—not undermine—the industry and our farmers."

"We stand ready to work with you on ways to deliver on continued investment and support for biofuels,” the letter continues. “They offer an immediately available and proven path towards decarbonizing the transportation sector, driving economic growth, creating jobs, and improving air quality. We need to make sure that our rural economies are in the best possible position to recover from this crisis and any move to weaken the RFS would only put us further behind."

The letter makes clear that proposed waivers undercut the RFS and run contrary to the Environmental Protection Agency’s established precedents.

"This administration’s unprecedented and unwarranted attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have hurt Iowa farmers and have directly resulted in jobs losses and plant closures in our communities,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “Waiving Renewable Fuel Standard requirements would hurt—not help—the economy, putting rural communities in greater danger as they fight the effects of President Trump’s trade war and the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. Granting these requests would be a betrayal of our farmers."

Last month, Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with other Midwest senators, sent a similar bipartisan letter to President Trump.

The National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, Renewable Fuels Association, and Growth Energy are all supportive of Congresswoman Finkenauer’s call to reject blanket statewide and national waivers.

"With the significant slowdown of ethanol production already reducing corn demand and impacting corn prices, unjustified requests to waive the RFS would bring more economic harm to agriculture. Corn farmers thank these Representatives, led by Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer and the bipartisan co-chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus, for sending a clear message to reject attempts to waive RFS requirements and make a difficult situation worse.  We need to maintain markets for agriculture and renewable, clean fuels, not have them taken away."

— Kevin Ross, Iowa farmer and President, National Corn Growers Association 

"On behalf of biodiesel producers across the country, I’d like to thank Representatives Finkenauer, Loebsack, Marshall, Peterson and Davis and many others who are standing up on behalf of the industry and the RFS. As they’ve noted, an RFS waiver would be unjustified and simply compound the economic challenges that biodiesel producers and farmers face. Further, it would undercut a successful environmental policy that is transitioning the United States to better, cleaner fuels.

— Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board

The Renewable Fuels Association is grateful to Representative Finkenauer and the bipartisan group of leaders in the House for standing with consumers, farmers, and ethanol producers to uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard. These lawmakers understand that caving into the whims of the oil industry and waiving the RFS would not only be illegal, but it would also have devastating impacts on an industry already reeling from the effects of Covid-19. The rural communities that depend on a thriving renewable fuels industry are fortunate to have such dedicated supporters protecting the RFS from endless attacks."

— Geoff Cooper, CEO, Renewable Fuels Association

"Rural America cannot afford another setback, and we’re grateful for the tireless efforts of House leaders to protect our road to recovery by defending the Renewable Fuel Standard. Oil industry efforts to waive the RFS would do nothing to reverse the market challenges facing all fuel makers, but they would eliminate a vital economic lifeline for thousands of rural workers, biofuel producers, and farmers who already face unprecedented hardship. It’s past time for the administration to declare these schemes dead on arrival, so we can all get back to rebuilding America’s agricultural supply chain in the wake of COVID-19."

— Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy


Finkenauer is a Leading Voice Against Efforts to Undermine the RFS:

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is a strong defender of the Renewable Fuel Standard and has been one of the leading bipartisan voices in Congress against efforts to undercut the law.

In 2019, Congresswoman Finkenauer spoke out against the EPA’s decision to break their promises to Iowa’s farmers and producers by not upholding the RFS and met with Iowa family farmer and Siouxland Energy Cooperative President Kelly Nieuwenhuis following his testimony before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

In October, Congresswoman Finkenauer and her fellow Iowa representatives sent a letter to the Trump administration expressing serious concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule regarding the reallocation of Small Refinery Exemptions under the RFS.

In January, as a result of her continued advocacy for Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers, Congresswoman Finkenauer announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will investigate the Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of small refinery exemption waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard. Under the current administration, small refinery exemption waivers have more than quadrupled from the previous administration. The Trump administration has placed the profits of Big Oil before the best interests of farmers.

"The most important part of my job is making sure Iowans’ voices are heard,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “We won’t stand for these attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard and our Iowa family farmers and biofuels producers."