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House Republicans Urge EPA To End ‘Completely Arbitrary’ Regulations On Small Fuel Refiners

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Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy and 10 other Republican lawmakers on Thursday urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its decision to deny small oil refiners exemptions from a climate rule that places a “massive burden” on their operations.

The Republicans pressed the EPA over its June decision to deny 69 small refinery exemption petitions (SREs) from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate, a move that forces small refiners to blend their products with biofuels in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. The lawmakers wrote that the regulation increases energy costs while putting unnecessary pressure on refiners and referenced a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which determined that the agency’s decision was based on potentially invalid assumptions and applied arbitrarily. 

“These findings suggest that EPA is wielding its regulatory power in a completely arbitrary manner and calls into question not only EPA’s administration of the RFS program, but its decision-making processes agency wide,” the lawmakers wrote.

Although the EPA refused to accept the refiners’ petitions because it believed that small refineries do not experience “disproportionate economic hardship” due to the RFS, GAO found that the EPA’s own data suggests that this is incorrect, according to the report. The agency’s statistics show that from 2013 to 2021 small refiners were paying more to comply with RFS when compared to larger companies as they were spending an increased amount of money to buy renewable fuel credits that the EPA requires them to obtain.

Small refineries produce 17 billion gallons of gasoline, diesel and other fuels each year by processing crude oil, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The Republicans also wrote that the EPA and the Energy Department (DOE) have denied small refiners’ petitions in “an inconsistent and arbitrary manner,” as GAO determined that neither federal agency had a clear procedure to effectively carry out the SRE program. The EPA had also not attempted to work out whether its assumptions about RFS compliance costs were correct, according to the GAO report.

“Put simply, EPA appears to be handing down decisions that have massive implications for the nation’s energy supply in the midst
of an unprecedented energy crisis based on the unfounded whims of unelected bureaucrats,” the letter reads.

The lawmakers demanded to know whether the EPA will reverse its decision and asked whether the agency would work with the DOE to implement clearer policies that would govern the SRE program. They also asked whether the EPA would retract its findings that small refiners do not experience disproportionate costs under the RFS.

The EPA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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