Nation & World

Trump team seeks more time on biofuel waivers

White House seeks two more weeks to decide on appeal

Steam rises from a stack outside the POET ethanol biorefinery in May 2019 in Gowrie, Iowa. (Bloomberg)
Steam rises from a stack outside the POET ethanol biorefinery in May 2019 in Gowrie, Iowa. (Bloomberg)
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The Trump administration wants more time to consider possibly appealing a court ruling that would impede its ability to exempt small oil refiners from complying with the nation’s biofuels law.

Both the Reuters and Bloomberg news services reported the administration filed a motion late Friday asking the deadline for an appeal be extended two weeks — making the deadline March 24 instead of Monday.

The number of waivers granted to refineries from complying with the renewable fuel law has quadrupled under the Trump administration, according to Reuters.

In January, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals raised a red flag on the program, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in granting new waivers — though it could extend waivers it had already granted before 2010.

Both news services reported last week, citing sources they did not name, that the Trump administration had already decided to appeal.

Reuters reported that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that an appeal was coming. Grassley’s office would not comment on that report.

In a statement, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw decried the possibility of an appeal, saying “this would go down as one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in 20 years of biofuels policy.”

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The renewable fuel law requires refiners every year to blend billions of gallons of biofuels, including corn-based ethanol, in the nation’s fuel supply, or buy credits from refiners that do.

Oil refiners argue the requirement is onerous and threatens jobs.

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