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World Energy idles three biodiesel plants following EPA refiner waivers decision

One of the largest and longest-serving low-carbon fuel producers and suppliers in North America, World Energy LLC, has announced that due to the August 9, 2019 decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant 31 small refinery waivers from the nation's renewable fuel standard (RFS) to oil companies, the company will immediately cease production and furlough employees at three of its US biodiesel plants.

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One of the largest and longest-serving low-carbon fuel producers and suppliers in North America, World Energy LLC, has announced that due to the August 9, 2019 decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant 31 small refinery waivers from the nation’s renewable fuel standard to oil companies, the company will immediately cease production and furlough employees at three of its US biodiesel production facilities.

With over 200 million (US) gallons (≈ 757 million litres) of annual biodiesel production, World Energy is one of America’s largest producers and suppliers of biodiesel. According to a statement, the company will immediately cease production and furlough employees at its Rome, Georgia (GA), Natchez, Mississipi (MS), and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (PA) biodiesel facilities.

World Energy will maintain essential staffing at these facilities to support maintenance and safety operations to keep the plants in a warm shutdown mode pending improved market conditions.

The closures will impact more than 100 workers across the three locations and will also impact farmers, suppliers, distributors, and other workers in related industries and communities. Operations will continue as normal at World Energy’s biorefineries in Houston, Texas (TX), Paramount, California (CA) and at its Canadian facility in Hamilton, Ontario (ON) as well as its offices in Boston, Massachusetts (MA) and Burlington, Ontario (ON).

Resumption pending policy outcomes

The company notes that virtually every petroleum company in the country has complied with the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program since the program started in 2004. The granting of waivers, which are tied to economic hardship, have been increased by more than five-fold in the last two years.

During the fall of 2019, at least three policy issues will be addressed that will impact the future operations of the facilities in Georgia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania as well as many other manufacturing plants throughout the low-carbon fuels industry. These issues include:

  • The EPA will set final rules establishing how much advanced biofuel will be required to be blended into the nations’ fuel supply in 2020 and whether to allocate the burden of non-compliance authorized by its waivers to compliant renewable fuel producers or compliant refiners;
  • The District Court in Washington, D.C. will hear cases being brought by litigants against the EPA for its dramatically expanded use of small refinery waivers;
  • Congress will decide whether to extend long-pending tax policy support for biodiesel blending.

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