EPA reverses course, supports ethanol producers in lawsuit

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FILE – This April 4, 2007 file photo, shows a gas pump in that delivers Ethanol fuel. The federal government announced Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, that it will support the ethanol industry in a lawsuit over biofuel waivers granted to oil refineries under President Donald Trump’s administration. The Environmental Protection Agency said it is reversing course and will support a January 2020 decision by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit filed by the Renewable Fuels Association and farm groups. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) – The federal government is reversing its stance in a dispute over gasoline, saying it will now support the ethanol industry.

Ethanol is a flammable liquid usually produced from corn. The federal government requires that gasoline makers blend a certain amount of ethanol into their fuel, but early on in that program, very small refineries were able to get waivers called “Small Refinery Exemptions” (SREs), allowing them to avoid “disproportionate economic hardship” while they work toward meeting the requirement.

A lawsuit was filed by agricultural groups and the Renewable Fuels Association, which claimed the Trump Administration was giving out too many waivers, reducing the demand for ethanol and hurting the farmers who grow corn to produce it.

Last year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in favor of the farm groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That case is set to be heard this spring.

However, the EPA announced today it is reversing its position and will now support the farm groups. In that announcement, the agency called out policies that were enacted during the previous administration, like giving waiver “extensions” to refineries that didn’t already have waivers.

This change comes just over a month after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.

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