U.S. lawmakers urge EPA to reject exempting refiner from biofuel mandates

Democratic U.S. congressional members sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the administration to reject any action that would exempt oil refiners from mandates to blend biofuels into the nation's fuel mix.

The letter comes after a report from Reuters last week that said President Joe Biden's administration, under pressure from labor unions and U.S. senators including from his home state of Delaware, is considering ways to provide relief to U.S. oil refiners from the mandates.

The letter was signed by lawmakers from both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives and states including Iowa and Illinois. It included Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Representative Cheri Bustos from Illinois.

The letter was also addressed to the National Economic Council.

"We support your efforts to address climate change, but we are concerned that rolling back the RFS obligation for refiners directly contradicts this work," the letter said. "Following through on the actions reportedly under discussion would directly undermine your commitment to address climate change and restore integrity to the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) and we urge you to reject them."

Under the RFS, refiners must blend biofuels into their fuel mix or buy credits, known as RINs, from those that do. Refiners can apply for exemptions to the obligations if they can prove the mandates harm them financially.

In the letter, the lawmakers asked EPA instead to stabilize the RIN marketplace by issuing a proposed rule for renewable volume blending obligations for 2021 and 2022.

The lawmakers behind Wednesday's letter largely represent corn-producing states. The RFS policy has pitted some oil refiners and corn groups against each other, as oil refiners find the mandates expensive, while they help boost demand for corn-based ethanol. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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