Lummis, Colleagues Seek Clarity for Small Refiners

March 7, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and nine of her Senate Republican colleagues sent a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm seeking clarity regarding its process for vetting and approving small refinery exemptions to the renewable fuel standard.  

The letter reads: “On November 3, 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, ‘Renewable Fuel Standard: Actions Needed to Improve Decision-Making in the Small Refinery Exemption Program.’ This GAO report examined the policies and procedures of both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for small refinery exemption decisions. Given the shortcomings identified in that GAO report, we write to express our strong concerns regarding the DOE’s role in scoring petitions filed under the small refinery exemption program in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and to inquire about the steps DOE plans to take to remedy these shortcomings.” 

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was created by the Energy Policy Actof 2005 and was expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Actof 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Small refineries were disproportionately impacted by the RFS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) to grant exemptions to the RFS if they can prove a disproportionate economic hardship for the small refinery. 

In December of 2021, the EPA attempted to block all pending SRE requests. In January of 2022, Senator Lummis and her colleagues sent a letter to EPA administrator Michael Reagan citing concern for the new approach to SRE petitions.