EPA Ethanol Plan ‘Falls Short of the Promises,’ says House Ag Chairman

The Trump administration “has yet … to produce a concrete plan to meet the annual 15 billion-gallon requirement” for mixing corn ethanol into the U.S. gasoline supply, said House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson on Wednesday. Leaders of farm and biofuel groups in Iowa, the No. 1 state for corn and ethanol, said they will try to overturn an EPA proposal that does not live up to their expectations for increasing biofuel consumption.

“The EPA’s announcement yesterday falls short of the promises made by the president, and doesn’t undo the damage done to farmers and biofuel producers,” said Peterson, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Biofuels Caucus.

Corn Belt farmers and biofuel groups say the EPA short-changed them in its proposal to offset the effect of Renewable Fuel Standard exemptions given to small refineries. The EPA said it would adjust the RFS by using a three-year average of Energy Department projections of waivers. Critics say the EPA is supposed to use a three-year average of the waivers it issued, which would result in a much larger adjustment.

“Don’t let the EPA undermine your policies once again, Mr. President,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Leaders of groups speaking for corn and soybean growers in Iowa and the Iowa Biodiesel Board joined Shaw during a teleconference in accusing the EPA of violating an agreement brokered by Trump between the oil and biofuel industries. Grant Kimberly of the biodiesel board said the public comment period on the EPA proposal would be an opportunity to bring the EPA into accord with the White House.

Meanwhile, The Hill newspaper reported that the EPA has removed from its website supportive comments by Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst about the ethanol package. When it was announced on Oct. 4, the senators praised the agreement. The EPA circulated the comments again on Tuesday when it described how it would adjust the RFS. “But the online version of that press release has since been changed to remove quotes” by Grassley and Ernst, said The Hill. It quoted a Grassley aide as saying, “That quote was for the announcement on Oct. 4.”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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