Farmers and biofuel reps urge President Trump not to appeal federal court ruling
By Diego Flammini
Farmers and members of the U.S. biofuel industry are hoping President Trump doesn’t follow through with a plan to appeal a federal court ruling.
In January, the Tenth Circuit court unanimously ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) abused its power when it granted small refinery exemptions to three refineries in 2016 because the Renewable Fuel Standard dictates the EPA can only extend exemptions.
In addition, those refineries hadn’t received any previous exemptions that required any extensions, the court’s decision said on Jan. 24.
But since the court’s ruling, reports have surfaced that the Trump administration may appeal the decision. And on March 9, a judge ruled that the administration has until March 24 to decide whether to challenge the decision.
Farmers and members of the biofuel sector, however, would like to see the administration back off from the challenge, have the EPA apply the court’s ruling to all small refinery exemption petitions move forward with biofuel production.
“This is a united front from agriculture, our biofuels groups and other supporters of the decision,” Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I’d ask that the president stand with farmers.”
On March 3, more than 20 groups including the NCGA sent a letter to the White House asking President Trump not to challenge the Tenth Circuit court’s decision.
If the federal government decides to challenge the court ruling, it could hurt farmers and the rural economy.
“Make no mistake, this decision could derail the rural recovery at a time when we’re already struggling to maintain a razor-thin profit margin,” Dave Walton, a soybean producer from Wilton, Iowa, said on the conference call. “Many of my fellow producers are running in the red and have been for a couple years.”
Politicians from oil-producing states have asked the president to continue with the challenge to prevent job loss.
“If allowed to stand and applied or adopted nationwide, it is believed that only two small refineries would still be eligible for hardship relief, putting tens of thousands of jobs at dozens of ineligible small refineries at risk,” a Feb. 27 letter to the White House says.
Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) and James Inhofe (Oklahoma) are among the signatories on the letter.
With the upcoming presidential election in November, President Trump’s handling of this situation may play a role in his possible re-election, Walton said.
“Farmers feel like they’re being supported by the president and the president has a good opportunity here to prove that support,” he said. “Here’s a perfect opportunity to increase domestic demand (for soybeans) via biodiesel and make an immediate impact on the price received.
“I think farmers are watching and know the issues pretty well. If this comes down to farmers versus oil companies, farmers are going to remember that in November.”