Some praise EPA ethanol waiver denials, others wary

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Biofuel producers are praising the Environmental Protection Agency’s promise to deny dozens of oil refineries’ requests to skip out on ethanol blending requirements.

“We’ve had probably the worst year in the industry’s history,” Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said. “We were dealing with the impacts of these refinery waivers, some trade barriers … and then we get got hit with COVID-19.”

He said the EPA’s announcement to reject the waivers and to make other changes to keep corn-based fuels available longer at the pump are a lifeline.

“These announcements are very much welcomed,” Cooper said. “Couldn’t have come at a more important time.”

While Midwestern Republicans are praising President Donald Trump for supporting rural America, Democrats are calling it a political stunt by his administration.

“Trump has spent three and a half years, every day of his presidency, undercutting biofuels demand,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said. “This is not a moment to celebrate. It’s a moment to say, ’50 days out from the election, now you’re doing this?'”

“If it is a political move, it’s a real head-scratcher,” rebutted Derrick Morgan of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents the industry.

He was skeptical the president would have anything to gain politically.

“The president actually won the refining-heavy states of Ohio and Pennsylvania and Texas by a lower margin than he won Iowa last time,” he said.

He said the EPA’s actions, which his organization is already challenging in court, hurt drivers.

“The majority of the auto fleet cannot take that fuel,” Morgan said.

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