In his article, “Bill Would Limit Small Refinery Biofuel Waivers” for AgriNews, Tom C. Doran took a close look at the bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) that would bring much-needed transparency to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) secretive small refinery exemption (SRE) process and ensure refiners meet their biofuel blending requirements. Doran highlighted Growth Energy’s support of the legislation, and spoke with Growth Energy member and Lakeview Energy chief operating officer and director, Eammon Byrne, on the issue after he met with legislators during Growth Energy’s May Fly In:
“We had two days with a very full agenda, everybody managed to meet with us — from downtown Chicago to rural Illinois — each of those representatives took time to hear our story and they realize I think that whether it be Chicago, Peoria or wherever, agriculture is important to Illinois and even the Chicago people realize that ethanol is doing a lot to clean up the air in largely populated cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and whatnot.”
In the interview with AgriNews, Byrne detailed the importance of sharing ethanol’s story with legislators from states across the U.S., discussing SREs, securing E15 year-round, and the economic challenges the industry is facing:
“The problem with it is there’s no transparency on why these are given. So, basically anybody that applied for an exemption got one, and they’re supposed to be given out in cases of hardship. Yet, we had companies like Exxon who make more money probably in an hour than most of us make in a year and received these exemptions which has completely decimated the margin environment in our industry.”
As part of their lobbying efforts to lawmakers, Byrne stressed the need for helping the farm economy.
“It’s no secret that farm income is down 25% over the last quarter and the price of corn and soybeans has dropped substantially in the same period. Likewise in our industry, in the ethanol industry which a lot of farmers are shareholders in, as well, we’ve seen our margins drop substantially over the past year, as well,” Byrne said.
“You’re out there reporting on ag issues on a day-to-day basis and you’re hearing the pain that a lot of our corn and soybean farmers and ethanol plants are experiencing at the moment and then they just hand out these waivers.
“There was a fair amount of sympathy across the board as we met each of these delegates. Whether it be Democrat or Republican, when we outlined the inequity of what’s happening I think there’s kind of a view there, well, look, E15 is going to solve all of the ethanol industry’s problems, which it would be a big help, I’m not denying that, but it’ll take time to build that out.”