April 4, 2024

Young, Tester Introduce Bill to Lower Energy Costs, Boost American Energy Independence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) recently introduced the bipartisan Supporting Energy in Rural America Act to improve the Renewable Fuel Standard Program and support American small scale refineries.

“Our bipartisan bill would improve the Renewable Fuel Standard program to help strengthen domestic energy production, reduce consumer costs, and boost American energy independence,” said Senator Young.

“Montanans rely on reasonable energy costs to take care of their families and grow their small businesses, and a key piece of that puzzle is boosting energy production right here in the Treasure State,” said Senator Tester. “For years, multinational oil corporations have used loopholes to take advantage of clean air standards while Montana’s small refineries have gotten a raw deal – but my bipartisan bill will change that. More oil refining in Montana will lower costs for consumers and businesses, strengthen Montana’s energy sector, and increase our national security by boosting American energy independence.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard program under the Clean Air Act was created by Congress to increase the sustainability of the American fuel market by setting a standard for the minimum volume of renewable fuel that must be blended into gasoline or diesel products by importers and refiners. In order to foster competition in the marketplace, this program included waivers available to “small refineries” that would face “disproportionate economic hardship,” allowing them to be exempt from the Renewable Fuel Standard. However, inconsistencies have resulted in the number of granted exemptions varying significantly each year, creating uncertainty for smaller refineries that were intended to be assisted under the program.

The Supporting Energy in Rural America Act would:

  1. Clearly establish which refineries are eligible for a waiver by defining “Small Refinery” according to the definition used by the Small Business Administration, a refinery whose average daily output does not exceed 200,000 barrels or that does not employ more than 1,500 employees.
  2. Close the loophole allowing for multinational oil companies to file for waivers intended for small refineries by clarifying that the cap established by the definition include the capacity of the entire company.
  3. Bring reliability to the waiver program by instructing the Department of Energy to create a methodology that the Environmental Protection Agency must follow when assessing applications for the waiver rather than leaving it to the interpretation of the administration.

The full bill text is available here.