EPA changes stand, sides with ethanol industry in court case

DES MOINES, IOWA (AP) — The Federal Government announced on Monday that it will support the ethanol industry in a lawsuit over biofuel waivers granted to oil refineries under former United States (US) president Donald Trump’s administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it is reversing course and will support a January 2020 decision by the Denver-based 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit filed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and farm groups. The lawsuit is headed to arguments before the US Supreme Court this spring.

Federal law requires refiners to blend billions of gallons of biofuels in the nation’s gasoline supply or buy credits from refineries that do the blending. Refineries can seek waivers if they can show that meeting the ethanol quotas would create a financial hardship for their companies.

The appeals court concluded the EPA improperly granted exemptions to refineries that didn’t qualify. The court said that refineries should be granted waivers only as extensions, but most refineries seeking exemptions had not continuously received them year after year. The decision effectively limited the EPA’s ability to grant most exemptions. Two refineries appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

File photo shows a gas pump that delivers Ethanol fuel. PHOTO: AP