INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) and the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) are grateful that billions of gallons of corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel will no longer be kept out of the U.S. market due to Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). According to a joint press release issued earlier today, President Trump negotiated a deal between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow the requirements in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for blending biofuels with petroleum.
For more than a year, EPA granted 85 SREs to oil refineries. Those waivers removed more than 4 billion gallons of ethanol from the U.S. market. Shortly after EPA approved 31 SREs in mid-August, a POET ethanol production facility in Cloverdale, Ind. was idled, costing Hoosier jobs and hurting the state’s economy.
“As harvest season continues throughout the state, this is an important win for Hoosier corn farmers,” said Ferdinand, Ind., farmer J.R. Roesner, who is also a member of the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Action Team. “At the national and state level, corn farmers told President Trump, our congressmen and the EPA that ethanol waivers for oil refineries damaged our livelihood. We need EPA to follow the Renewable Fuels Standard. We are grateful that steps are being planned to guarantee RFS obligations are met.”
The EPA’s waivers negatively affected Indiana’s farmers. Through 2018, the EPA waived 2.64 billion gallons of ethanol, which nearly offset Indiana’s entire corn output from 2017. This year, EPA granted waivers on an additional 1.43 billion gallons of ethanol. Indiana ranks as the fifth-largest producer of U.S. ethanol – generating more than 1.1 billion gallons per year. The state produces 8.1 percent of the total U.S. ethanol output. Nearly 47 percent of Indiana’s corn crop goes toward ethanol production, which adds nearly $300 million to farmer income.
This morning’s agreement states the EPA will seek public comments for plans to expand the blending levels for biofuels in 2020. This would ensure that 15 billion gallons of ethanol will be blended into the U.S. fuel supply, matching the RFS requirement, beginning next year. Waivers for small oil refineries will continue to exist, but the plan is to offset their impact by tracking the waivers based on a three-year average. For instance, if the volume requirements for biodiesel is 2.5 billion gallons, and EPA offers waivers totaling 250 million gallons, the volume requirement would increase to 2.750 billion the following year.
Additional details in this deal include:
- EPA will start a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove barriers to sales of E15, which is a 15 percent blend of ethanol and petroleum.
- EPA will evaluate options for transparency and reform of the Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN), which is used to guarantee refineries blend biofuels.
- USDA will consider infrastructure projects to facilitate higher biofuel bends.
- The Trump Administration will continue to work to address trade-related issues for ethanol and biodiesel.
“With all of the challenges we’ve faced this year, we are happy to hear some good news while harvesting this crop,” said Greentown, Ind., farmer Denny Maple, who is a voting member on the National Corn Board. “There’s still work to be done on the details, but this agreements tells us that the concerns of Hoosier farmers are being heard.”
Shelbyville, Ind., farmer Phil Ramsey, who is a member of the National Biodiesel Board, said this is a step in the right direction. “Biofuels help provide energy security, they are good for the environment, and they help support rural economies,” Ramsey said. “Anything that supports the long-term future for biodiesel in America is good for all Americans.”
— Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association
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