The exemptions mean about 900 million bushels of corn won’t be used for ethanol production
By Diego Flammini
American corn producers are unhappy with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision on ethanol production.
Yesterday, the EPA granted five Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery exemptions for the 2017 compliance year. That decision will see about 366 million gallons of biofuels removed from RFS compliance. EPA grants the exemptions retroactively.
A small refinery “may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) if it can demonstrate that compliance with the RVOs would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship,” the EPA’s website says.
Small refineries that process less than 75,000 barrels per day can apply for exemptions.
Since 2016, the EPA has granted 53 small refinery exemptions, resulting in 2.6 billion fewer gallons of biofuel production and about 900 million bushels of corn left unprocessed.
Farmers are upset with the EPA’s decision.
“We’re really disappointed with this,” Curt Mether, president of Iowa Corn Growers Association, told Farms.com. “There’s so much uncertainty on the horizon and corn prices are low. Ethanol is something we rely on as an avenue to market our crops.”
The U.S. biofuel industry is also speaking out against the exemptions.
“It’s extremely disappointing and outrageous to see EPA once again allow oil refiners to undermine the RFS and hurt family farms, ethanol producers and our environment by exploiting and abusing a statutory provision that exempts them from their obligations to blend renewable fuels,” the Renewable Fuels Association said in a statement.
The exemptions come after the EPA’s Tuesday discussion of making federal changes to allow year-round sales of E15 gasoline.
Redistributing ethanol production requirements will be important in ensuring E15 is available, said Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).
“Any benefit of selling E15 year-round will be wiped out until and unless the EPA gets back to the rule of law when it comes to these refinery waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” he said in a statement. “That’s why ACE has joined with others to petition the EPA to reallocate waived gallons…”
Refineries have submitted 39 exemption requests for 2018. The EPA has yet to rule on those submissions.