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Illinois farmers harvest corn crops. Photo: Seth Perlman / AP

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday largely maintained quotas for a federal ethanol mandate, resisting efforts by oil companies to make bigger changes.

Why it matters, per Axios' Amy Harder: These final quotas show the ethanol lobby and a group of corn-state lawmakers led by Sen. Chuck Grassley remain as powerful as ever even under the unconventional administration of President Trump. EPA did cut the quotas compared to statutory levels, but it discarded more aggressive changes. That mixed bag ultimately led to a range of muted reactions from ethanol backers, including a cautious statement of approval from Grassley, and criticism from oil and refinery interests.

Gritty details: The mandate's overall quota was revised slightly upward, from a proposed 19.24 billion gallons to a final 19.29 billion gallons. The difference comes largely from a slightly increased quota for cellulosic biofuels made from non-corn material compared to the proposal.

Go deeper: Understanding America's ethanol policy; The ethanol empire strikes back

Go deeper

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

40 mins ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in United Kingdom

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.