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Setting the Record Straight on Waivers

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All summer long, the ethanol and corn industry pushed hard for the EPA to stop granting small refiner waivers. This caused some tension between Indiana Corn and CountryMark, Indiana’s farmer owned refinery that was granted such a waiver. Now the record has been set straight.

This summer Indiana corn farmers and CountryMark, a blender of ethanol for gasoline, found themselves at odds over the issue of Small Refiner Waivers. Now Geoff Cooper, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, says, in their efforts to pressure the EPA, there may have been some misconceptions created, “I think there is a misconception that the ethanol industry is against refinery exemptions altogether, that is not the case. If there are cases where waivers are warranted, grant them.”

Matt Smorch, VP of CountryMark, the Indiana farmer owned refinery that blends ethanol, says the waivers are a valuable safety net for small refiners, “Having a safety net in the Renewable Fuels Standard when there is a hardship is important to small refiners like CountryMark.”

Cooper told HAT the decision by the Trump administration to re-allocate any ethanol exempted by waivers starting in 2020 is good for the ethanol industry and the corn market. He is still critical, however, of waivers being granted to refineries owned by large and profitable oil companies, “There are companies like Exxon and Chevron that have gotten small refinery waivers, and I don’t think that is who the law was intended to help.”

Smorch believes that, in the future increasing the octane level in gasoline, will be a better way to grow demand for ethanol, without having to rely on mandates.

Smorch told HAT CountryMark is a supporter of ethanol and will continue to blend the corn product into their gasoline. CountryMark is an American-owned oil exploration, production, refining and marketing company. The company’s complete line of premium quality liquid fuels begins with light, sweet crude oil, which is refined to the highest specifications at the CountryMark refinery in Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

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