May 09, 2018

Duckworth, Warren Join Colleagues in Questioning Carl Icahn, Scott Pruitt on Renewable Fuel Standard Waiver for Icahn’s Refinery

Icahn’s CVR Energy Claimed “Economic Hardship” - but Made a Profit of Over $200 Million in 2017


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) today in writing to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and Carl Icahn, billionaire former adviser to President Trump and Chairman of CVR Energy Inc., to request information on reports that the EPA granted CVR an “economic hardship waiver” from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Senators expressed concern that Mr. Icahn received a “hardship waiver,” which comes at the expense of farmers in Illinois and across the Midwest, even though CVR made a profit of over $230 million in 2017. Mr. Icahn is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for potential illegal activity while working as a White House adviser to change RFS regulations in a way that could enrich himself by hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2016, Mr. Icahn, who was a public supporter of Scott Pruitt’s nomination as EPA Administrator, bet heavily on a drop in the price of renewable fuel credits. Mr. Icahn then secured a position as a Senior Adviser to President Trump and recommended personnel and policies that did in fact cause the price of these credits to drop – ultimately resulting in a $50 million windfall for his company. After Mr. Pruitt was nominated, Mr. Icahn said that Scott Pruitt “feels strongly about the absurdity of these (RFS) obligations.”

A copy of the letter sent to Carl Icahn can be viewed online here, and a copy of the letter sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt can be viewed online here.

“We are troubled by the news that a corporation that made a profit of over $200 million in 2017, and that is owned by a billionaire former ‘special adviser’ to the President who is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for his activities in the RFS market, has now received a ‘hardship waiver’ from the RFS,” wrote the Senators.

Refiners can receive a temporary exemption from RFS requirements if they produce less than 75,000 barrels of oil per calendar day and prove to the EPA that complying with the RFS “would impose a disproportionate economic hardship” on them. The EPA has granted at least 24 waivers in recent months, a significant change from the 6-8 waivers granted annually in the past several years. CVR reported profits of over $230 million in 2017 and reportedly received an exemption this year after being denied in a previous year. The Senators asked the EPA and Mr. Icahn to answer questions about the exemption and how it was granted by no later than May 22, 2018.

Duckworth has been a vocal critic of Icahn's actions while serving as Special Advisor to Donald Trump, especially his efforts to change the point of obligation for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which would harm the $5 billion biofuel industry and its 4,000 employees in Illinois. Last August, Duckworth asked the FBI and the Department of Justice  to launch a criminal investigation into whether Icahn’s actions violated federal anti-corruption law and, shortly after, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed Icahn regarding allegations he influenced RFS policy while in the White House despite his financial interests being significantly linked to the RFS. Duckworth also grilled Pruitt at his committee hearing over his past opposition to RFS and whether he would support moving the point of obligation.