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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE January 12, 2021

Top Story

Exclusive: Trump administration expected to grant biofuel waivers for some oil refiners – sources

By Stephanie Kelly in New York and Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Reuters  •    •  Posted January 12, 2021

The Trump administration is expected to grant waivers to some oil refiners that would exempt them from requirements to blend biofuels into their fuel mix for the 2019 compliance year, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The move would be one of the last actions by President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency to seek to balance the competing desires of the biofuel and oil industries over biofuel blending laws. The decision, however, would be a blow to the biofuel industry and corn producers that say the exemptions hurt demand for their products, though the oil industry rejects that claim. [ read more … ]

SREs

Supreme Court will take up heated refinery exemption fight

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

A biofuel industry lobbyist said that the high court’s decision to hear the case was surprising, given that lawyers on that side of the case didn’t think there was a question of law still to be settled. The full 10th Circuit had declined to reconsider the case. “Maybe they’re seeing something we aren’t,” he said. [ read more … ]

Emissions

‘There’s a red flag here’: how an ethanol plant is dangerously polluting a US village

By Carey Gillam, The Guardian  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

For the residents of Mead, Nebraska, the first sign of something amiss was the stench, the smell of something rotting. People reported eye and throat irritation and nosebleeds. Then colonies of bees started dying, birds and butterflies appeared disoriented and pet dogs grew ill, staggering about with dilated pupils. There is no mystery as to the cause of the concerns in Mead, a farming community so small that its 500 residents refer to it as a village and not a town.
[ read more … ]

Greens sue over EPA’s oil refinery emissions standards

By Sean Reilly, E&E News  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

Environmental groups are suing EPA over changes the agency made last year to its air toxics standards for oil refineries. Air Alliance Houston and 10 other groups filed the lawsuit last month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the agency’s denial of an earlier petition to reconsider amendments to the emissions rule. [ read more … ]

Markets

For Minnesota farmers, 2020 was nothing like they expected and surprisingly profitable

By Evan Ramstad, Minneapolis Star Tribune  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

But corn and soybean growers flourished, after extreme weather and a surge in exports bolstered prices. “It turned out to be a way better year than what we thought it was going to be,” said Tim Little, a corn and soybean farmer near Faribault. The pandemic threw the U.S. economy into recession for the first time since 2009 and changed the trend line in every segment of farming. And yet, farmers, food processors, distributors and grocers kept Americans fed even as eating patterns underwent a rapid shift driven by the need for people to spread out and stay home to slow the virus. Congress and President Donald Trump approved federal assistance of unprecedented size to farmers to offset effects of both the pandemic and a trade war that had stretched into a third year. The result: Overall farm income rose 43% in 2020 to its third-highest level ever, surpassed only by 2011 and 2013. [ read more … ]

Raising biofuel standard top legislative priority for Minnesota Corn Growers

By Mark Dorenkamp, Brownfield  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

The president of the Minnesota Corn Growers tells Brownfield the top legislative priority for the association is increasing the biofuel standard. Tim Waibel, a corn and soybean grower from Courtland, says he recently discussed the benefits of higher ethanol blends with his new District representative. [ read more … ]

The Transition

Kamala Harris gains prominent new role thanks to Democrats’ Senate majority

By CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, Politico  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

Kamala Harris’s vice presidential portfolio was nebulous before last week. But thanks to Democrats’ upset victories in two Georgia Senate run-offs, Harris has unexpectedly earned a new title: Senate tie breaker. Once Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock are sworn in next week, the Senate will be split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. That puts Harris, who as vice president will formally be the president of the Senate, in position to tip the balance of power on everything from key legislative items to confirming Cabinet nominees and judges. [ read more … ]

What Trump’s dismal deregulatory record means for Biden

By Pamela King and Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News reporters  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

As Trump’s sole term comes to a close, that deregulatory legacy remains tarnished and trammeled by the courts. Much of the administration’s efforts have been unable to survive legal scrutiny, while others await judgement that will come after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. So far, the Trump administration has lost 83% of legal challenges to its regulations, guidance and agency memorandums, according to statisticscompiled by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. [ read more … ]

Here’s what might be in Biden’s first climate order

By Jean Chemnick, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

Joe Biden could mark his first day as president with one or more executive orders announcing plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement, submit a global deal on refrigerants for ratification and deliver on the sweeping climate pledges he made on the campaign trail. People in contact with Biden’s transition team say they expect a spate of early communications on top policy priorities for the new administration, including on climate change. Those orders are believed to still be under development as the incoming administration races to position top nominees amid a turbulent transition of power. Gina McCarthy is moving quickly to establish herself as the national climate adviser, having finished her tenure at the Natural Resources Defense Council last week. [ read more … ]

What Merrick Garland as attorney general means for the environment

By Dino Grandoni, Washington Post  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick B. Garland, is set to bring deep expertise on environmental law to the Justice Department. Garland is best known for having his nomination to the Supreme Court shot down by Senate Republicans during President Barack Obama’s last year in office. But he is also well versed on the nation’s major anti-pollution laws as the chief justice of the federal court second only to the high court in matters of environmental law.  If confirmed, he will inherit a department that critics, including Biden, say has curtailed prosecution of polluters under President Trump. The former vice president campaigned on increasing enforcement of Clean Air Act violations and other laws.  [ read more … ]

Off Topic

Bald eagle lays egg in San Bernardino National Forest

By Associated Press  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

A bald eagle has laid an egg in a Southern California nest and nature lovers will watch for the hatching via an online live feed. Mother eagle Jackie delivered the egg Saturday afternoon near the mountain community of Big Bear east of Los Angeles. The group Friends of Big Bear Valley, which installed the web cam, says the egg is expected to hatch around Valentine’s Day. [ read more … ]

Industry wary of hiring Trump staff

BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico  •    •  Posted January 11, 2021

Government officials and industry executives say President Donald Trump’s goading his supporters to attack the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory has tarnished many of his energy staffers’ resumes — even among oil and gas companies long accustomed to taking heat from Democrats, climate change activists and investor groups. [ read more … ]

Note: News clips provided do not necessarily reflect the views of coalition or its member governors.