The White House is expected to decide by March 24 whether to appeal a federal appeals court decision that represented a major victory to biofuels producers and farmers fighting the EPA’s expansion of the small-refinery exemptions program.
The decision is expected to follow a meeting anticipated this week that would bring together President Trump, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
In January, the court ruled EPA didn’t have the authority to issue small-refinery exemption extensions to three companies that were not originally granted waivers.
The ruling applied to about one-third of all small refineries in the country, meaning EPA is faced with either appealing the ruling or applying it nationally. An appeal from the White House would be asking the 10th Circuit for a hearing before all judges in the 10th Circuit.
In a joint statement from the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, and seven other groups, biofuel advocates called on Trump to stand with rural America in implementing changes as a result of the ruling.
The court ruling said that the EPA “exceeded its statutory authority in granting those petitions because there was nothing for the agency to ‘extend.’ Further, one of the EPA’s reasons for granting the petitions was to address disproportionate economic hardship caused by something other than compliance with the renewable fuels mandate. That, too, was beyond the agency’s statutory authority.”
EPA has taken heat on how it defines “hardship” when it granted waivers. The ethanol industry and others have maintained the waivers were not designed for oil companies that report billions of dollars in profits.
Sources: Progressive Farmer, Politico