The ethanol industry has had to work through some difficult times. The past couple years have seen demand destruction caused by the wholesale granting of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the loss of the Chinese Market during trade disputes. Just when things could be poised to turn around, 2020 threw a couple of sucker punches of its own.
Audio: Full Interview with IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw
In February the Tenth Circuit Court ruled the EPA had illegally granted SREs in three cases during 2016. In a move that shocked the ethanol industry and its supporters, the Trump Administration asked for a two-week extension in which to decide if they would appeal. The Administration had long said they were supporters of the biofuels industry, but an appeal would be seen as a betrayal of that pledge.
The deadline for the appeal has come and gone, and the administration and the EPA have decided to not pursue an appeal. Monte Shaw is the Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). He says the government’s decision to not appeal is a relief to the industry. However, that doesn’t mean this is over. The oil companies involved are still planning to appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Trump Administration and EPA could appeal to the Supreme Court.
That ruling, even with its uncertainty, gave a small ray of hope to the biofuels industry. Then the Covid hit the fan. Shaw says he knows in the scheme of things, the ethanol industry’s woes aren’t high on the list during the pandemic. However, there has been an increasingly negative effect on the industry.
Shaw says that the President needs to use the ruling as policy going forward to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard.
The Renewable Fuels Industry and its supporters would like to see the administration be more transparent in its decisions affecting renewable fuels in the future.