MFU leader disappointed in Supreme Court ruling
June 28, 2021
ST. PAUL – Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish expressed disappointment in response to Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a 2020 appellate court ruling that struck down three small refinery exemptions granted by previous EPA administrators. However, because the court focused on one narrow element of the appellate court ruling and left others unchanged, he is optimistic the Biden administration will continue its support of renewable fuels.
“The ruling was a blow for sure,” said Gary Wertish, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “That said, it doesn’t change President Biden’s ability to champion renewable fuels or his commitment to Minnesota farmers. Biofuels clean our air, provide an important, local market for farmers and support jobs across rural Minnesota. We’re going to keep pressing forward and still feel confident farmers have a friend in the White House.”
The June 28 decision stems from a May 2018 challenge brought against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol, working together as the Biofuels Coalition. The petitioners argued that the small refinery exemptions were granted in direct contradiction to the statutory text and purpose of the RFS.
In January 2020, the Tenth Circuit decided that EPA cannot “extend” exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed. According to the Circuit Court ruling, “the statute limits exemptions to situations involving ‘extensions,’ with the goal of forcing the market to accept escalating amounts of renewable fuels over time.” While the Supreme Court failed to affirm this portion of the Tenth Circuit decision, the Biofuels Coalition pointed out that the appellate court also ruled that EPA’s exemption decisions must reconcile the agency’s consistent findings that all refineries recover the costs of compliance with the RFS, and that EPA may only use hardship caused by the RFS to justify granting exemptions.
As of June 28, 70 small refinery exemption petitions remain pending with EPA, for the compliance years 2011-2020.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org)