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News and resources regarding COVID-19

US Supreme Court Backs Refineries in Biofuel Waiver Case

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The Supreme Court says an expanded number of small refineries can seek an exemption from certain renewable fuel requirements. The high court ruled 6-3 that a small refinery that had previously received a hardship exemption from complying with Clean Air Act requirements may obtain an “extension” of that exemption. That’s even if the refinery let a previous exemption lapse.  The Biden administration argued that to get an extension, a refinery had to have maintained a continuous exemption since 2011.
Iowa Gov. Reynolds responded to the decision today, saying it is a disappointing setback for Iowa Agriculture and the renewable fuel industry in the state. She said it not only undermines demand for ethanol and biodiesel but it also creates an environment where waivers could grow exponentially.
 
A massive “COVID-friendly” beef processing facility is planned for southwest Iowa. The newly-formed Cattlemen’s Heritage Beef will construct the $325 million plant in Mills County. 
It promises to create hundreds of jobs and boost the region’s economy by more than a billion dollars a year.
Project developer Chad Tentinger is the founder and owner of TenCorp. He says the new plant will be the first state-of-the-art new facility built in western Iowa in more than two generations. The facility will employ up to 750 workers and have an estimated annual economic impact is $1.1 billion to the local economy.” 
Tentinger says the plant will fill a “critical gap” between conglomerates and under-sized lockers that aren’t equipped to meet the needs of consumers, producers, or retailers. <--break->
 
Enrollment at Iowa community colleges has been decreasing since 2011, and the decline accelerated during the pandemic. However, the leaders of two community college districts that operate nine campuses say the dip isn’t as deep here as it is in other states.
Rob Densen is president of the Des Moines Area Community College, which has six campuses in central Iowa. Densen says the average community college nationally dropped 9.5%. At DMACC, we’ve been down 7% throughout the year.  Denson says the largest single group of students who aren’t coming back are low income who were impacted by so many other things during the pandemic.
 
“So that particular group understands the need for higher education or skill-building. Funding with last-dollar scholarships, there has never been a better time to come back. So we fully expect when we open all of our face-to-face, which will be in the fall, we’re going to get a nice influx in the fall.”
 
Iowa Valley Community College District Chancellor Kristie Fisher says she also expects a large contingent of students this fall. The college operates Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Marshalltown Community College, and Iowa Valley Grinnell.  Denson made his comments on this week's edition of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.
 
State Representative Steve Hansen has been appointed to the Economic Development Authority Board in the Iowa House of Representatives. Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst announced the appointment.
As an appointee of the Economic Development Authority Board, Hansen will be charged with exercising public and essential governmental functions, undertaking programs that implement economic development policy in the state, and specific finance programs.

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