(Washington, D.C.) -- Key Ethanol Senator Chuck Grassley says he just spoke with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and hints Wheeler may be open to last-minute relief for the ethanol industry on small oil refinery waivers.
Grassley says he spoke to Wheeler about the oil industry’s appeal to the Supreme Court of a lower court ruling that struck down most retroactive small oil refinery ethanol waivers.
“And I considered it a very positive conversation…didn’t get into a lot of details…he didn’t say exactly what he was going to do…but everything that he said, I thought, was music to my ears, and maybe, to some extent, a little bit unexpected.”
Then, Grassley got more specific, referring to the lower court ruling against Small Refinery ethanol waivers.
“One move that he can’t really comment on…and that’s until the Supreme Court makes a decision on whether or not they’re going to take Certiorari on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the RFS.”
But the ethanol industry still fears the Trump EPA may 'run out the clock' in nationalizing the 10th Circuit ruling and on setting new renewable volumes for 2021, after missing the November 30 deadline to do so.
Grassley says it would then be up to a Biden Administration to act.
“And I think that Biden’s hands will be forced by the 10th Circuit opinion…the small refineries will be, for the most part…these exemptions will be eliminated if the 10th Circuit’s followed.”
The exemptions cost the ethanol industry more than 4-billion gallons in lost demand over the three-years leading up to the pandemic, idled 15 to 20-plants and cut corn prices by 20-to-25 cents ahead of the virus.
Ethanol and corn demand have recovered much of their losses since then as the economy’s adjusted and grain exports to China have picked up.