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US EPA claims ‘zero impact’ of small refinery exemptions on ethanol industry

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Following the news that a further two small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions have been filed under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the 2018 compliance year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has claimed that the recent trend of issuing exemptions has had no impact on ethanol producers.

“There is zero evidence that EPA’s congressionally mandated small refinery exemption program…has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers,” an EPA spokesperson said in comments emailed to Reuters.

The biofuel industry has argued that the waivers granted to small oil refiners are destroying demand for ethanol, forcing a number of producers to take capacity offline.

Responding to the EPA’s claim, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement: “The latest reports say President Trump ‘felt misled’ about the EPA’s most recent batch of small refinery exemptions. That’s hardly a surprise. The EPA spent months trying to paper over the devastating impact these refinery handouts have had on farm communities and rural workers in America’s biofuel sector. They can’t hide the simple fact that dozens of biofuel plants have cut production, and ethanol consumption fell for the first time in 20 years in the wake of these exemptions. Closures in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska are only the beginning.

“Just today, the world’s largest ethanol producer closed a major plant in Indiana and cut production across seven states. Hundreds of millions of gallons of production are offline, and hundreds of millions of bushels of grain are falling in value, just as farmers face the worst economic conditions in a generation.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard creates an incentive that opens the market to biofuel blends, including the E15 that President Trump personally embraced. These exemptions destroy that incentive, pure and simple. You cannot carve billions of gallons from America’s biofuel targets and still keep this administration’s promises to farm families. EPA needs to account for these lost gallons immediately and start repairing the damage before more rural communities lose hope for a comeback.”