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POET still moving forward with Shelbyville refinery

POET’s ethanol refinery plant currently being built in Shelbyville is still slated to be open in March 2020.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

The surprising news that POET is idling production at its bioprocessing facility in Cloverdale left Shelbyville officials with questions.

POET’s 29th refinery is approximately six months from being open in Shelbyville. Grain could start being delivered just after the first of the year, according to Brian Asher with the Shelby County Development Corporation, who was part of a conference call Tuesday afternoon with a POET representative.

Shelbyville officials were assured that the local facility is on schedule to open in March of 2020 and will be the company’s most technologically advanced in terms of production.

That was not the case at the Cloverdale facility which was purchased by POET, the world’s largest biofuels producer, in 2010. 

“The Shelbyville plant will be the most efficient, most profitable plant of the 29 they own because it has the newest technology,” said Asher. 

POET has reduced production at half of its refineries in response to EPA small refinery waivers that cut domestic biofuel demand by four billion gallons.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was designed to increase the use of clean, renewable biofuels and generate grain demand for farmers. 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,” said POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin in a media release.

According to POET, the Renewable Fuel Standard authorizes small refinery exemptions for refiners that process less than 75,000 barrels of petroleum a day and can 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, according to POET in the release.

Oil is making billions of dollars and using the EPA to stop biofuels growth by “handing out hardship waivers to some of the wealthiest companies in the world,” according to POET. 

“POET has made strategic decisions to support President Trump’s goal of boosting the farm economy. However, these goals are contradicted by bailouts to oil companies. 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,” said POET President and COO Jeff Lautt.

The biofuels industry applauded the president’s roll out of year round E15 earlier this summer but the waivers are contradicting that stance in Washington D.C.

“My long term fear isn’t for the biofuels industry, it’s for rural America. POET can continue to produce ethanol with cheap grain, but we don’t want to lose our family farmers. The EPA has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future,” said Broin.

The shutdown of the Cloverdale plant eliminates the production of 30 million bushels of corn. The byproduct of that decision could mean more business for the Shelbyville facility coming from farmers northwest of Indianapolis.