U.S. Senators Call for Crackdown on Imported Cooking Oil Amid Fraud Concerns

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators from farm states is urging regulatory action to curb the influx of imported used cooking oil (UCO), citing fears that some shipments may contain fraudulent materials, including virgin palm oil linked to environmental harm.

In a letter addressed to key U.S. regulatory bodies and agencies, including the (EPA), the Department of Agriculture, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Trade Representative, the senators raised alarm over the surge in UCO imports. They highlighted that imports skyrocketed from less than 200 million pounds annually to over 3 billion pounds in 2023, with a significant portion originating from .

“We understand there are good actors utilizing UCO as part of a diverse array of feedstocks in their renewable fuel production, and domestic sources of UCO are held to rigorous verification and traceability requirements,” the senators stated in their letter dated June 20.

The senators expressed concern about the lack of transparency in U.S. efforts to verify imported UCO and called for clarity on enforcement and verification actions. The letter was signed by Senators Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Roger Marshall, Deb Fischer, Pete Ricketts, and Sherrod Brown, highlighting bipartisan support for stricter oversight.

Used cooking oil is crucial for U.S. manufacturers producing biodiesel, which qualifies for federal and state subsidies. However, the senators cautioned that fraudulent UCO imports could compromise the integrity of these subsidies, including Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard.

The letter pointed to Europe's regulatory measures, which led to a significant decline in used cooking oil imports after tightening scrutiny to prevent mislabeling and ensure environmental sustainability.

The senators' initiative underscores growing scrutiny over international trade practices affecting supply chains, reflecting broader concerns about environmental accountability and regulatory compliance in the biofuels sector.



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