A federal court decision last week may reduce the number of small refinery waivers the Environmental Protection Agency issues for blending ethanol.

The 10th circuit court of appeals found the agency over-stepped its reach in the case of three refineries. American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings calls the ruling a victory. “So this should limit EPA’s activity or abuse of this part of the Renewable Fuel Standard in the future,” Jennings says.

He says it is a small step that will help. “We have struggled financially as an industry for some time. This case isn’t going to turn things around overnight, but it is a bit of good news that we need,” Jennings says.

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson says the ethanol industry has contributed to its own woes.
“Ten percent of the industry’s problems have to do with EPA indifference to, perhaps, EPA regulations as they were originally written,” Swenson says. The other 90%, Swenson says, is over-production with not enough domestic demand to absorb the ample supply.

(By Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)