Last year was a difficult one for biofuel producers, but the leader of one of the nation’s largest biofuel trade associations said there are reasons to be optimistic in 2020.

At the 25th National Ethanol Conference in Houston Tuesday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said 2020 was already off to a good start after the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled in favor of RFA in a decision on small refinery waivers. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its statutory authority in granting three specific small refinery exemptions.

“We expect the decision will ultimately apply broadly to EPA's actions regarding small refinery exemption petitions,” Cooper said in his speech. In later remarks to reporters, Cooper pointed to a case involving Sinclair and how EPA took that decision from the court and applied it broadly to the SRE program.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters last week the agency would decide soon as to how it would move forward.

Cooper also said there will be opportunities to expand production as E15, a gasoline blend with 15% ethanol, is now able to be sold year-round rather than outside the summer months.

He noted the organization’s vision is brighter as the transportation industry continues to focus on ways to lower carbon emissions. He also wants to see a low-carbon octane standard, which would establish a minimum octane level for fuels and require sources that boost octane to come from ones that reduce greenhouse gas emissions rather from a hydrocarbon baseline.

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