Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor recently wrote an op-ed for Wisconsin’s Capital Times on the damaging effects the rapid rise of small refinery exemptions have had on the rural economy and biofuels industry in Wisconsin. In the op-ed, Skor wrote:
“In Wisconsin, the nation’s seventh-largest biofuel producer, access to higher ethanol blends also means that more motorists can support farm income and rural manufacturing workers at the state’s nine ethanol plants. But those benefits are now being threatened by special “hardship” exemptions granted to some of the nation’s largest and most profitable refining companies. These Environmental Protection Agency handouts allow oil companies to sidestep the RFS and lock homegrown biofuels out of the marketplace.
“Over the past two years, these special exemptions have quadrupled in number, destroying demand for more than 2.6 billion gallons of biofuel — the market for nearly a billion bushels of U.S. grain. Legally, exemptions may be granted to small refineries facing “disproportionate economic hardship,” but EPA bureaucrats are reportedly approving them for refineries owned by large companies like Exxon and Chevron. We don’t even know all the recipients, because the agency has hidden the process from public view.
“For rural families, it’s hard to imagine a worse time to come under attack by Washington bureaucrats. Farm income has been spiraling downward, exports are down, and flooding has demolished hopes for the next harvest in many communities. Across the heartland, 200 ethanol plants are under incredible strain. Many have already idled production due to historically low margins, driven lower by EPA mismanagement.”