The allocation of small refinery waivers continues to take its toll on agriculture. Last week, the National Biodiesel Board expressed its disappointment with a court decision declining to review EPA’s refusal to account for its exemptions. And it continues to frustrate corn growers.
Last week, Jeff Sandborn, a member of both Michigan and the National Corn Growers Association, attended a meeting in St. Louis. Waivers were top of mind, as well as the damage they’ve done to the U.S. domestically.
“If you took the complete amount that’s been waived in the last three years through the small refinery exemptions, it comes to about 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol,” said Sandborn. “There’s about 2.8 gallons per bushel of corn, so you end up with [roughly] 1.5 billion bushels of corn that should have been turned into ethanol and used domestically.”
Sandborn recognizes these waivers have been issued in past administrations, but their use was rare. Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, he says the waiver issue could be a determining factor in the Corn Belt.
“Something that was totally supposed to happen in this country was stopped and changed our world when it comes to agriculture,” he said. “They’re definitely going to push on this issue because this is huge in the Midwest.”
In the not so distant future, Sandborn wonders if a new player to the market could take the place of oil and ethanol.
“If [oil and ethanol] keep beating each other up, the American public’s going to look at electric vehicles and say that might be an option,” he said.
Sandborn expects President Trump’s ethanol package to come out this week.