World Energy revealed plans Friday to cease operations at its Rome plant, 555 W. Hermitage Road. Facilities in Natchez, Mississippi, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will also be shuttered.

World Energy made the decision in the wake of a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency last week to grant 31 small refinery waivers from the nation’s renewable fuel standard to oil companies.

World Energy will continue to staff the three facilities to support maintenance and safety operations. The Rome plant will furlough 23 employees while 10 will stay on to keep the facility in a state of readiness in the event market conditions justify re-opening it.

The closures will impact more than 100 workers across the three locations and will also impact farmers, suppliers, distributors, and other workers related to the biofuel industry.

The renewable fuels program started in 2004. Waivers have increased more than five-fold in the last two years. This fall at least three policy issues will be addressed that will impact the future operations of the facilities that are being shut down.

One of the key issues will involve the establishment of final rules for how much advanced biofuel will be required to be blended into the nations’ fuel supply in 2020.

The federal court in Washington, D.C., will hear cases being brought against the EPA for its dramatically expanded use of small refinery waivers and Congress will decide whether to extend long-pending tax policy support for biodiesel blending.

Associate Editor Doug Walker contributed to this story.

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