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Bill Aims To Lower Energy Costs

As a part of his continued efforts to lower energy costs for Montanans and strengthen Montana’s energy production, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., recently introduced his bipartisan Supporting Energy in Rural America Act to improve the Renewable Fuel Standard Program and give Montanan’s small scale refineries a fair shake in competition with multinational oil corporations.

“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 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 waiver available to “small refineries” who would face “disproportionate economic hardship,” allowing them to be exempt from the Renewable Fuel Standard. Inconsistent definitions of both “small refineries” and “disproportionate economic hardship” have led to the number of waivers being issued to large multinational oil corporations while shutting out smaller refineries that were intended to be assisted by the rule.

“As a leading independent producer of Renewable Diesel and Sustainable Aviation Fuel, we believe this bill is good for the American energy transition, good for employment, and good for the farmers and ranchers who grow our renewable feedstock” said Bruce Fleming, CEO of Montana Renewables. “By narrowing the small refinery exemption to only the true small operators and reinforcing DOE’s important role in the process, this bill benefits everyone.”

“Calumet operates two of the few small independent refineries remaining, and this bipartisan bill helps sustain high paying jobs that support the small towns and rural communities we serve,” said Todd Borgmann, CEO of Calumet Specialty Products Partners. “We believe the bill brings simple but elegant clarification and reaffirms the original intent of the Clean Air Act and its renewable volume obligation.”

“On behalf of United Steelworkers Local 491 we support the bill as a way to level the playing field versus our much larger competitors,” said Michael Spragg, president of United Steelworkers Local 491. “We are very happy that Calumet has tripled employment and invested in the future of our small refinery, but it is a tough business and we expect a fair deal under the Clean Air Act and this helps.”

Tester’s Supporting Energy in Rural America Act will: 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.

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.

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.

Tester has led the charge to bolster Montana’s robust energy portfolio and modernize the state’s power grids. Through his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, he secured significant investments to improve and modernize Montana’s electrical grid to support the next generation of energy. His bipartisan infrastructure law also supports energy research and development in the Montana University System.

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