January 28, 2020
CONTACT: Christina Dexter, 816.738.5402 [email protected]

Nevada, IA – Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman called the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to strike down improperly issued ethanol production waivers, “ a game-changer for the future of ethanol production and a victory for family farmers.”

As found by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit late on Friday, the granting of three small refinery exemptions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to companies owned by CVR Energy and HollyFrontier was unlawful. 

“We’ve always known that  EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions were unlawful,” said Lehman. “We just needed a larger entity to say it. These waivers eliminated 4 billion gallons of ethanol demand over the past three years, delivering a major blow to family farmers. I am hopeful that this ruling will restore the ability of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to drive demand and expand markets for renewable fuel.” 

The court ruling stems from a May 2018 challenge brought against EPA by the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union.

Among other findings, the Court held that EPA cannot “extend” exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed. EPA’s own data show that a maximum of only seven small refineries could have received continuous extensions of their previously existing exemptions. Yet, recently EPA has granted as many as 35 exemptions in a single year.

The Court also found that EPA abused its discretion in failing to explain how the Agency could conclude that a small refinery might suffer a disproportionate economic hardship when the Agency has simultaneously consistently maintained that costs for RFS compliance credits, or RINs, are passed through and recovered by those same refineries.


Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883
[email protected]