Supreme Court sides against ethanol, rules oil refineries can continue to get exemptions from renewable fuel standard


DES MOINES, Iowa — Ethanol has become a major piece of Iowa’s economy, but the United States Supreme Court hindered a part of its business model in a ruling on Friday.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided small oil refineries can continue to receive exemptions from the renewable fuel standard requiring them to use ethanol in their products, even if it had stopped receiving an exemption.

“If we’re going to expand on carbon and climate goals, we better stick with the one that’s already working,” said Grant Menke of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. “This has been the most important new market for corn in my entire lifetime.”

The decision drew ridicule from Iowa politicians on both sides of the aisle.

In a statement, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said:

“Now more than ever we need the Biden Administration to take a clear stance against small refinery exemptions in order to limit the negative impact of this ruling.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst added to the criticism with a Tweet which stated her disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, the chair of the House Biofuels Committee, responded to the ruling with a series of Tweets.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan in the aftermath of the decision.

In the letter, Hinson said in part, “Fourteen years is ample time for small refiners to determine effective strategies to adapt and abide by established law. Now that the decision is final, Administrator Regan, the fate of the biofuels industry and the livelihoods of farmers in Iowa are in your hands.”

Iowa Corn plans to contact the EPA in the coming days, and Menke is confident the state’s biofuels industry will remain strong after the ruling with their oversight.

“In the state of Iowa, about 55 percent of the corn makes its first stop at an ethanol plant,” Menke said. “The EPA has said all of the right things. Now the rubber’s going to meet the road, and we are trusting them to uphold their commitment.”

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