Court Rules Indiana Ethanol Plants Must Cut Back Emissions

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was letting ethanol plants in the state release more than two times EPA-allowed emissions.

ethanol plant

Photo: Fred Thompson (Flickr)

The Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant in Iowa.

Ethanol plants in Indiana may have to reduce the amount of air pollutants they emit because of an appeals ruling that came down Tuesday.

Under Environmental Protection Agency standards, plants that are classified as “chemical process plants” are allowed to emit 100 tons of air pollutants per year while other facilities can release up to 250 tons.

IDEM has not been classifying the state’s ethanol plants under the stricter category, allowing them to release about two times more pollutants than they would otherwise.

The Natural Resources Defense Council brought a suit against IDEM. The Council’s Clean Air Director John Walke says states are allowed to petition the EPA to loosen regulations, which he says was a common practice under the Bush administration.

“But since the Obma administration has taken office, they have not given force to those weaker rules around the country,” he says. “The Indiana agency realized this, I believe, and was trying to circumvent the need to gain that approval from the Obama EPA.”

POET Biorefining runs four plants in Indiana and was a defendant in the case. Company officials say the plants have always operated below the 100-ton regulation and plan to continue to do so.

“Using biofuel improves air quality, and as such POET takes it very seriously,” POET spokesperson Matt Merritt said in a statement.

IDEM declined to comment except to say it’s considering whether to appeal the ruling.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/langerfour Chuck Langer

    Ethanol people boast about how cleaning burning it is. It really is similar to electricity from a coal plant.the electricity is clean, but you truly need to look at the whole process. California requires their ethanol to be cleaner burning from start to finished product. They get their ethanol from Brazil. Burning up over 40% of our corn crop for less than 5% gain in oil independency is senseless. Natural gas is abundant, half the cost, cleaner burning, and directly reduces our oil consumption. It cost 20% more to operate a car on E85 verses gas. Waste Management saves $19,000 per year on every vehicle it converts to natural gas. Should making ethanol from a prime food source even be a choice?

  • Pingback: Court Rules Indiana Ethanol Plants Must Cut Back Emissions – Indiana Public Media

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charlie-Peters/100001008562611 Charlie Peters

    Will Mary Nichols, John Wallauch, Kamala Harris and Governor Brown support the UN, Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, Al Gore, Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, Dianne Feinstein and the World Bank ethanol waiver?

    Can CO2, ozone and pm be reduced with a GMO fuel waiver and improved PZEV performance?

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