WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five Democratic senators asked the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter on Tuesday to hand over documents relating to the role of Carl Icahn, a refining company owner, in shaping biofuels policy at the agency.
Lawmakers have for months raised concerns that Icahn’s dual role as a high-powered investor and an adviser to President Donald Trump on regulation could lead to conflicts of interest. Icahn, a billionaire, owns the oil refining company CVR Energy , which is heavily impacted by U.S. policies requiring refiners to blend biofuels into their gasoline and diesel.
The senators - Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren, Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley and Tammy Duckworth - addressed the letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, requesting that he hand over communications between the EPA and Icahn or representatives of CVR Energy.
They also requested reports, data and briefings exchanged between the agency and Icahn.
“Statements made by him or actions taken by his companies may now be seen as signaling changes in EPA or administration policy which may, in turn, affect the price of CVR stock and the RIN market,” the senators wrote in a letter sent to Pruitt on Tuesday.
A RIN, or Renewable Identification Number, is the name given to biofuels blending credits that many refiners are required to purchase under the U.S. biofuels regulation.
In February, Icahn, who is an unpaid adviser to Trump, submitted a proposal to the White House to change the U.S. biofuels program, the Renewable Fuel Standard, in a way that would ease the burden on oil refining companies, including his own.
A Reuters review of corporate filings in April showed that Icahn’s company had also taken a large short position on biofuels credits - a bet that prices for biofuels credits would fall - that would have yielded big profits if the White House adopted the proposal.
White House officials have said the EPA is now considering Icahn’s proposed overhaul to the biofuels program.
The senators gave Pruitt until June 16 to provide the information. The letter comes after the senators twice asked the White House and Icahn for information about his biofuels dealings but received no response.
Those senators last month sent a letter to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, urging that it probe Icahn’s activity in the market. The CFTC on Monday informed them and four other senators that it will not investigate the credits because RINS are not traded on futures markets.
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