Saying it is a win-win for American farmers, the Illinois Farm Bureau is commending the federal government’s decision to support the ethanol industry over biofuel waivers granted to oil refineries.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it is reversing course and will support a decision by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in a lawsuit filed by the Renewable Fuels Association and farm groups.
Federal law requires refiners to blend billion of gallons of biofuels in the country’s gasoline supply or buy credits from refineries that blend fuels. Refineries can seek waivers if they can show that meeting the ethanol quotas would create financial hardship for their companies.
The appeals court concluded the EPA improperly granted exceptions to refineries that didn’t qualify. The decision effectively limited the EPA’s ability to grant most exemptions. Two refineries appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
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Adam Nielsen, National Legislative Director with the Illinois Farm Bureau, said the ruling is good for Illinois.
“Opportunities for trade, our domestic uses become even more important and biofuels is one of them,” Nielsen said. “It is right in our backyard as we have a number of plants right here in Illinois.”
About 40% of U.S. corn is used to produce ethanol. The EPA under Donald Trump issued 85 retroactive small refinery exemptions for the 2016-18 compliance years, undercutting the biofuel volumes by some 4 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
“Illinois ethanol plants have boosted the state’s rural economies and continue to provide great opportunity for sustainability,” Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. said in a statement. “Biofuels area win-win for America, farmers, rural economies and cleaner air. We are pleased to see the agency confirm that only previous existing small refinery exemptions may be extended.”
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