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Iowa Renewable Fuels leader says EPA’s waiver decision fulfills Biden campaign pledge

DES MOINES — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rescinded three waivers that had excused Sinclair Oil refineries in Wyoming from the federal requirement to blend ethanol into gasoline. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says the waivers were granted on the last day of the Trump Administration.

“What was most shocking about them, not just the lateness of them and they aren’t justified to begin with, but these refineries are in the 10th circuit court,” Shaw says.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has jurisdiction over six states, including Wyoming. It’s the court that ruled early last year that small refineries only qualified for the exemption from blending ethanol into gasoline if they had applied for extensions of waivers originally granted in 2010. Shaw says the EPA’s decision fits with the law, but just as importantly it matches what candidate Joe Biden said on the campaign trail.

“He said he wanted to reign in these refinery exemptions, that they weren’t justified, that we need to follow the law and implement it appropriately,” Shaw says, “so for his EPA then to turn around and say: ‘Hey, these literally last minute exemptions don’t make sense. We need to pull them back,’ it makes sense because that is what he said he would do.”

Shaw says the Biden Administration’s EPA administrator will be in Iowa today and will tour an ethanol plant.

“Unfortunately I guess for him the previous administration left a lot of unfinished business on his calendar and that will include finally enforcing the small refinery waiver program appropriately,” Shaw says.

Other unresolved items include setting the federal ethanol production mandate for this year and announcing EPA labeling and equipment rules so retailers can sell E15 — gas with 15% ethanol — year round.

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