It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the biofuels industry. A couple of court decisions seemingly have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. After the Supreme Court overturned a 2020 appellate court ruling on RFS waivers a D.C. Circuit Court reversed EPA’s regulation allowing year round E 15 sales. Neither decision is a total defeat for the ethanol industry but they certainly make it harder for the industry moving forward. While the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t mean EPA has to grant waiver requests it does leave the door open for them to do so. In other words the industry is back to depending on a federal agency that does the bidding of the administration. The Biden administration, like others before it, have said positive things about biofuels but has also sent mixed signals on whether they really support them or not. This administration has gone out of its way to promote electric vehicles leaving their commitment to biofuels in question. The long awaited decision to grant year round E 15 sales was made under the Trump administration. Given the number of Trump policies this administration has reversed you can’t help but wonder how strongly they will fight for E 15. This should be a time of great optimism for the ethanol industry. The push to reduce carbon and meet climate goals should be a great opportunity for fuels that can help reach those goals sooner rather than later. These latest decisions are the latest evidence that our government has never fully supported the biofuels industry. Some, especially those in the oil industry would of course disagree but despite helping our country lessen its dependence on foreign sources of energy it has had to do so while doing battle with our own government. Despite passing the Renewable Fuels Standard several years ago, Congress has allowed administration’s from both parties to find loop holes to prevent it from being fully implemented as intended. Now the courts seem to be doing the same. As we celebrate our country’s freedom we should also be celebrating freedom fuels such as ethanol. No one says consumers should have to buy ethanol but at the same time they should not be kept from doing so. Ethanol is American made, creates American jobs, supports rural American economies, cleans our air, provides a market for American farmers and at a time of higher gas prices, provides a lower cost option for motorists. . You can’t get much more patriotic than that. The ethanol industry has overcome many obstacles and I’m sure will continue to do so. Still it’s ironic that as we celebrate this special holiday we have had one court decision that makes it easier to break a law and another that makes it harder to have freedom of fuel choice. The struggle continues.
Ag In the Courtroom