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Farmers: Refinery Waiver from Renewable Fuel Standard Hurting Demand

In 2016 and 2017, small refinery waivers wiped out about 2.2 billion gallons of biofuels obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Matt Dente/Flickr)
In 2016 and 2017, small refinery waivers wiped out about 2.2 billion gallons of biofuels obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Matt Dente/Flickr)
August 14, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. – Many farmers in North Dakota and nationwide say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard by granting too many exemptions for small oil refineries - hurting farmers in the process.

The National Farmers Union says it's happy to see that the EPA has proposed requiring blending 15 billion gallons of ethanol and other biodiesel fuels into the fuel supply in 2019. However, refineries that process less than 75,000 barrels of oil per day and can prove financial hardship are eligible for waivers from the mandate.

Anne Steckel, a biofuels advisor with the National Farmers Union says that decreases demand for corn-based fuels.

"The farmers are the ones at the end of the day who are really not the winners in all of this, and it's very contrary to what the president and this administration has said that they support," she says. "They have talked extensively about supporting farmers but the actions from this EPA about the small refinery exemptions have not been supportive."

According to EPA data, nearly 50 waivers were granted in 2016 and 2017, wiping out 2.2 billion gallons of blending obligations. The public can comment on the agency's proposed renewable fuel requirement for 2019 through Friday.

Steckel says farmers are sitting on a lot of corn and prices are low. And she notes that the country's escalating trade war is putting farmers in an even tighter bind.

"We're obviously at a time right now where we're very concerned about our lack of export markets and so it's really important that this administration continues to support farmers, continue to support the renewable fuels industry by the Renewable Fuel Standard," she explains.

Steckel says the National Farmers Union would like the see the biofuels standard grow in volume over the next few years. Groups promoting Biofuels say the EPA should stop granting small refineries waivers or force larger refineries to make up the difference.

Public comments can be submitted here.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND