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POET Cuts Ethanol Production

Company says administration mishandled SREs, announces job cuts coming

File Photo
File Photo

POET, based in Sioux Falls, SD, announces it will idle production at its bioprocessing facility in Cloverdale, IN, due to recent decisions by the Trump administration regarding small refinery exemptions (SREs).

The process to idle the plant will take several weeks, after which the plant will cease processing of over 30 million bushels of corn annually, impacting hundreds of local jobs.

POET has reduced production at half of its biorefineries, with the largest drops taking place in Iowa and Ohio. As a result, numerous jobs will be consolidated across POET’s 28 biorefineries and corn processing will drop by an additional 100 million bushels across Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was designed to increase the use of clean, renewable biofuels and generate grain demand for farmers," says POET Chairman and CEO, Jeff Broin. "Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Unfortunately, the oil industry is manipulating the EPA and is now using the RFS to destroy demand for biofuels, reducing the price of commodities and gutting rural economies in the process,”

The RFS authorizes small refinery exemptions for refiners that (1) process less than 75,000 barrels of petroleum a day and (2) demonstrate “disproportionate economic hardship.”

Over the past two years, the EPA has issued waivers to refineries owned by ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other large oil companies — none of which are small and none of which have economic hardship, says the company.

The company says EPA’s mismanagement of SREs has created an artificial cap on domestic demand for ethanol and driven RIN values to near-zero, which weakens the incentive for retailers to offer higher blends.

"Oil is making billions of dollars, yet still using EPA to stop biofuels growth by handing out hardship waivers to some of the wealthiest companies in the world, in contradiction with President Trump’s public comments," a releases from the company states. "So far, the EPA has cut biofuels demand by 4 billion gallons and reduced demand for corn by 1.4 billion bushels, causing severe damage in rural America."

POET President and COO Jeff Lautt says POET made strategic decisions to support President Trump’s goal of boosting the farm economy.

"However, these goals are contradicted by bailouts to oil companies," he says. "The result is pain for Midwest farmers and the reduction of hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity across Indiana."

The recent announcement of 31 new waivers comes in steep contrast to the president’s roll out of year-round E15 earlier this summer, says the company.

"The SREs are wiping out any near-term growth potential for year-round E15 and challenging the president’s promises made to family farmers and rural communities," says the company's release. "The president now has the opportunity to show his leadership on this issue and turnaround the rural economy."

Broin adds his long-term fear isn't for the biofuels industry, but rural America.

"POET can continue to produce ethanol with cheap grain, but we don’t want to lose our family farmers," he concludes. "The EPA has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future."

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