EPA stops work on a deal meant to help farmers battle big oil industries

The Environmental Protection Agency has stopped working on an update to its biofuels policy that would help farmers who are angry about biofuel blending exemptions given to oil refineries.

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Under current policy, more than 30 oil refineries are exempt from their U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandate to blend corn-based ethanol with other biofuels.

Agriculture advocates argue the exemptions hurt farmers who produce corn-based ethanol and are who are already taking losses as a result of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Oil industry experts, on the other hand, say the exemptions are intended to save refining jobs.

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The EPA is waiting for further direction from the White House, according to Reuters.

Demands from oil industry representatives for concessions to increase biofuel use have held up the updates, but the impeachment inquiry against President Trump has also diverted the administration's attention away from the deal.

An agency spokesperson said the EPA will “continue to consult with our federal partners on the best path forward to ensure stability in the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The agricultural industry wants the White House to force big refineries to make up for the exempted gallons through a “reallocation” process, but the plan has faced backlash.

“Plants are closing now. Farmers are going bankrupt now. The biofuel industry made it clear that restoring the exempted gallons by 2020 is the only way to stop the bleeding,” a biofuel source told Reuters. “Anything short of that is going to face united opposition, which means the president won’t want to show his face in Iowa.”

Some fear the policy reform won’t be completed before the end of the year.

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