Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt put the entire biofuels industry on the defensive when he started handing out small refinery waivers like Halloween candy to refineries which shouldn’t have qualified for them. Now with a new EPA Administrator in Andrew Wheeler, biofuels supporters are intensifying their call to end the waivers. In response, President Trump has ordered a review of the program.
When President Trump visited Council Bluffs earlier this month, National Corn Growers Association First Vice President and Iowa Farmer Kevin Ross challenged the President to stop the waivers.
Thursday turned out to be a very vocal day about EPA’s granting of small-refinery hardship waivers.
On Thursday, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst reiterated her call for refinery waivers to be done away with.
Also, on Thursday, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor penned an article in Ethanol Producer Magazine in which she outlined the devastation these waivers caused the ethanol industry. Skor said, “With costs down and profits up, it’s hard to imagine how multibillion-dollar oil corporations like Exxon Mobil and Chevron were able to claim ‘disproportionate economic hardship’—a prerequisite for their refineries to secure special exemptions from the U.S. EPA. Exemptions in hand, these refiners were permitted to replace 2.6 billion gallons of homegrown biofuels with more petroleum.
“Worse, it’s hard-pressed rural families who are paying the price for these record profits. U.S. ethanol consumption recently fell for the first time in 20 years. Across the heartland, many biofuel plants have shut their doors or idled production. Farm income plummeted $11.8 billion over just the last three months, the steepest drop since 2016.
Thursday afternoon, we learned the President had ordered the review.