The waivers free small, financially struggling refineries from having to mix ethanol into their fuel as mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard; in the past the EPA has issued between six and eight waivers per year, but last week an agency source revealed that 25 waivers were issued in 2017. Some were given to refineries owned by Andeavor, one of the country's largest refiners.
Critics, including the senators above, allege that the increased exemptions are an attempt to gut a program the administration dislikes without formally eliminating it. The call-out continues Trump's long-standing headache in attempting to appease Republicans from petroleum-producing states and corn-producing states who are at cross-purposes over the RFS.
Trump was scheduled to meet with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the issue yesterday.