EPA asks court to throw out three Trump-era biofuels waivers

EPA has asked an appeals court to throw out three biofuels waivers granted by the Trump administration. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Biden administration is asking a court to throw out several waivers for an oil company that didn’t want to buy the required amount of ethanol.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out three waivers that Sinclair Oil Corp. received in the waning days of the Trump administration. The waivers would allow the firm to sidestep federal biofuel blending requirements, Reuters reported. 

EPA contended Trump’s staff didn’t check to see if the waivers were allowed under the 10th Circuit’s related ruling in January 2020.

Regan in Des Moines

EPA Administrator Michael Regan is expected to visit the Dico Superfund site in Des Moines Tuesday afternoon. EPA plans to work with the city to clear the site by the end of this year.

The city has plans for development in the area totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, including a professional soccer stadium proposed by Krause Group and Pro Iowa on the Dico site.

In a joint statement, Democratic state Sens. Kevin Kinney of Oxford, Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Jackie Smith of Sioux City supported EPA’s filing. Iowa is a top producer of grain and biofuels made with the crops.  

“This decision by the Biden administration is good news for the renewable fuel industry and Iowa farmers who sell to them,” wrote the senators, who serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “It reverses a terrible decision by the Trump administration to support Big Oil and dampen demand for ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable fuels.

“We need more policies at the state and federal levels to boost — not threaten — the economic well-being of rural communities,” the senators said. “We must boost ethanol demand, help farmers and the biofuel industry, and jump-start the farm economy.”

The appeals court had ruled in the 2020 decision that waivers granted to small refineries after 2010 should only be approved as extensions of previous waivers. That set off a lively court fight over whether the waivers must be held continuously.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.