Three Iowa lawmakers have submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Gov. Kim Reynolds, are asking the EPA to ensure the RFS requirement that 15 billion gallons of ethanol a year to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply is upheld.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been generously granting small oil refinery waivers from those requirements. The ethanol industry said that has destroyed product demand and resulted in both idled plants and lower prices for the corn that feeds them.
Under the new plan from the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gallons lost to such waivers in the future would be reallocated back into the blending requirements.
In a release from Ernst, the three Republican leaders are working to send the message to “provide certainty to Iowa farmers and biofuels producers that 15 billion gallons means 15 billion gallons.”
“These rules have a real and tangible impact on the people of Iowa and across the country. Rural communities in Iowa, like Crawfordsville, Emmetsburg, Merrill and Sioux Center, are especially feeling the effects first-hand. These communities have had to endure the shuttering of biofuels facilities, a detrimental blow that is a direct result of the EPA’s actions,” Reynolds said in her letter. “The Renewable Fuel Standard that is intended to protect an important market for corn and soybeans is being undercut by the same government that promised to defend it.”
Grassley said the renewable fuels industry in Iowa generates nearly $5 billion of Iowa’s GDP, over $2.4 billion in household incomes and supports 47,000 jobs across Iowa. In the Council Bluffs area, both Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy and Bunge produce biofuels.
“As the number one producer of corn, ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, the renewable fuels industry is an important sector of Iowa’s economy. President Trump made a commitment to Iowa and other biofuels producing states, and I look forward to seeing this promise fulfilled,” Grassley said. “The EPA shouldn’t undercut President Trump’s support of the Renewable Fuels Standard. I urge EPA to adjust the proposed supplemental rule to account for actual waived gallons using hard data from past practice to provide certainty to the marketplace.”
Another Iowa lawmaker, Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat representing the 3rd District, which includes southwest Iowa, has called for a federal investigation into the EPA’s biofuel waiver process – specifically, what she says is the misuse of the EPA’s small refinery exemption, which has been granted to some large companies.
“We’re going to be out there fighting every day,” Axne, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said during a tour of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in early October.
— Nonpareil reporter Tim Johnson and BH News Service reporter Joseph Morton contributed to this report.