The Environmental Protection Agency granted 31 exemptions
By Diego Flammini
The American corn and ethanol industries are displeased with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to grant several refinery exemptions.
The EPA granted 31 exemptions on Aug. 9. Refineries may receive them if they can prove that complying with Renewable Volume Obligations “would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship,” the EPA said in a statement.
Since 2018, the EPA has granted 53 waivers, totaling 2.61 billion gallons of fuel made without ethanol.
These kinds of production cuts are having significant effects on the supply chain.
“At least 15 ethanol plants have now shut down or idled since EPA began its refiner bailout bonanza last year, and more than 2,500 jobs have already been affected,” Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said in an Aug. 20 statement. “Ethanol production and demand continue to slide, prices continue to sink, and margins continue to bleed red.”
Some of the plants preparing to stop ethanol production belong to POET, the nation’s leading ethanol manufacturer.
Its plant in Cloverdale, Ind., which processes more than 30 million bushels of corn each year, will idle. And across its 28 biorefineries in Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri, production will drop by about 100 million bushels.
Continued cuts will hurt farmers, said Jeff Broin, chairman and CEO of POET.
“My long-term fear isn’t for the biofuels industry, it’s for rural America,” he said in an Aug. 20 statement. “POET can continue to produce ethanol with cheap grain, but we don’t want to lose our family farmers. The EPA has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future.”
With the 2020 presidential election looming, some farmers are considering not voting for Trump to show solidarity.
“I have talked to a bunch of farmers in the past few days, and they are fed up,” Kelly Nieuwenhuis, a corn and soybean grower from O’Brien County, Iowa, told Reuters. “They are not going to vote for Elizabeth Warren, but they said they are not going to vote for Trump, so they will sit this (election) out.”