The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is facing a mass of problems right now with Scott Pruitt under investigation for misusing taxpayers dollars.
On Monday, Reuters reported that the agency granted a waiver to a business headed by one of Trump’s former advisers, Carl Icahn.
Icahn is the owner of the Oklahoma-based CVR Energies Inc., a small oil refinery. The EPA gave the company a waiver that would allow it to work around an Obama-era regulation, the Renewable Fuel Standard, that requires oil refineries to mix oil and gas products with ethanol or buy renewable fuel credits.
The waiver allows Icahn’s company to save tens of millions of dollars, only at the cost of producing cleaner energy.
Icahn was an early supporter of Trump’s campaign and also met with Scott Pruitt when he was being vetted for his current position as head of the EPA.
Many have called out the deal as favoritism, seeing that Trump and Icahn clearly have some sort of history together. Icahn’s company also applied for the waiver when Obama was in office and the request was denied at the time.
On the other hand, the EPA released a statement claiming that the agency has not changed their vetting process since Trump took office. Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the EPA, said in in a statement:
“The criteria used to grant waivers has not changed since previous administrations. EPA follows a long-standing, objectively determined process where the Agency uses a Department of Energy analysis to inform decisions about refiner exemptions/waivers, for refineries that are below the statutory threshold. EPA decisions on waivers are based on refinery-specific information that is subject to confidential business information protections.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard is supposed to help smaller oil companies make ends meet, but it has been criticized for being too lenient. In this particular case, people have claimed that Icahn’s business is not “small” which the Renewable Fuel Standard law defines as producing no more than an average of 75,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Under Trump, the EPA has granted 25 small refineries exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard regulations, far more than the average of 7 in previous years.
This has led lawmakers to investigate Icahn’s tenure as an adviser to Trump. While he stepped down in August due to the dilemma of being both an adviser and an investor, lawmakers are concerned that he may have used his position to change biofuel policy.
Environmentalists have criticized Trump, Pruitt and the entire EPA, but officials within the energy industry complain that regulations like the Renewable Fuel Standard are burdensome on business.
H/T: The Hill