JOHNSTON, Iowa -- The EPA has made their decision on the 2018 renewable fuel standard and biofuel supporters are disappointed.
Standard corn ethanol by law was to be set at 15 billion gallons, and it remains at 15 billion gallons. However, that’s where the good news ends.
In 2017 biodiesel was projected to see a 100 million-gallon increase, it only got a 33 million-gallon bump. In the summer cellulosic ethanol was scheduled to be cut by 25%. A furious effort from Governor Reynolds, and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst helped to negate that cut to 7%.
For those in the industry, however, a cut is a cut; and not what they wanted.
“For biodiesel this is not good. The industry is larger than this, it can do more than this, it has proven that. This is an industry that is really ready to grow, and yet the EPA has basically put its foot down on the breaks” said Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
During his campaign in Iowa then-candidate Trump touted his support for ethanol, and criticized other candidates backed by the oil industry.
“Other candidates are supported by the oil industry, they're totally supported by the oil industry, and they have them totally wrapped up” said Trump.
The man behind the EPA's renewable fuel standard is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt; a man President Trump nominated, and who received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry during his campaign for Oklahoma attorney general.
“We said when he was nominated that he wasn’t exactly on our top 10 list of people we’d like to see in there, but he needs to implement the president’s energy plan. This is not the Scott Pruitt energy plan” said Shaw.
Governor Reynolds thanked President Trump for his efforts to put pressure on the EPA to negate some of the damage the original EPA plan was to have, but says she and her colleagues in the legislature have more work to do.
“We're going to continue to make sure that the president honors his commitment, and he has. Every time I talked to him he said he's committed to the renewable fuel standards and I take him at his word” said Reynolds.
Though biofuel industry leaders acknowledge the president didn't break his campaign promise to uphold the renewable fuel standard, they expected more.
“They didn’t come through on advanced biofuels. Did they undermine corn ethanol? No, but is that really something to do high-fives over? It’s the law, it was what the Obama Administration did last year, it’s what the president promised to do. They did follow through, so let’s give them credit for that, but it’s not like they moved a mountain” said Shaw.
Iowa’s biofuel leaders all agree the next thing they’d like to see is for the EPA to deregulate E-15 ethanol so it can be sold year-round. Director Shaw says that alone would increase the demand and production for ethanol.
President Trump promised Iowans he would do such if elected.