LINCOLN — Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU), Nebraska’s longest and most ardent ethanol advocate hailed the Tenth Circuit Court decision striking down EPA’s use of small refinery exemptions as a big win for corn producers and family farm agriculture.
The court ruling in in response to a May 2018 lawsuit brought against EPA by National Farmers Union. Renewable Fuels Association 9RFA, National Corn Growers Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol.
NeFU President John Hansen who also serves on the National Farmers Union board of Directors said, “Anytime you go to court over an issue it is going to cost both time and money. You also know if you lose you set a negative legal precedent. In this instance, we thought we had a very strong legal case against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we knew how much EPA’s illegal use of small refinery exemptions was hurting corn utilization and depressing corn prices, and the fact we had three good partners to help share the legal costs made the decision to pursue legal remedy a risk we had to take. It is always heartwarming when the little guys who grow corn can take on both big corporate oil and the federal government, and win. Teamwork paid big dividends for our nation’s farmers,” Hansen said.
The Tenth Circuit found that EPA’s granting of small refinery exemptions to three companies owned by CVR Energy and HollyFrontier were unlawful and exempted them from meeting required levels of biofuel production under the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“I hope EPA takes the court’s decision to heart and ends its systematic abuse of the small refinery waiver process,” said Hansen. “The misuse and overuse of these waivers reduced ethanol production by over 4 billion gallons in three years, or over 1.4 billion bushels of corn. By comparison of use, in 2018 the U.S. ethanol utilized 34.5% of the corn crop, feed and residual, 33.2%, and exports 15.4%. In an already struggling corn marketplace already hurt by trade conflicts, losing domestic utilization thanks to EPA makes a bad situation worse,” Hansen concluded.
Among their findings, the court held that EPA cannot “extend” exemptions to any small refinery that had a temporary exemption lapse. EPA’s own data showed that a maximum of seven small refineries qualified for continuous extensions. Yet, EPA has granted as many as 35 waivers in a single year.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.
— Nebraska Farmers Union
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