Farmers ask New EPA Director to Uphold Administration’s Ethanol Promises

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tariffs and excess supplies are taking a toll on Iowa farmers. Current soybean prices are more than one-dollar below the price farmers need just to break even.

Many farmers hope their corn crop can make up for soybeans and expanded ethanol use could help their bottom line. Farmers just need the EPA to sign off on the change allowing the sale of E-15 blended fuel year-round.

Expanding the renewable fuel standard (the amount of ethanol allowed to be blended into the nation’s gas) was a promise candidate Trump made on the campaign trail in Iowa. In May, President Trump promised Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst that he supported removing restrictions surrounding the sale of E-15.

“Promises don't pay the bills” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill.

On Monday Hill spoke with acting-EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, saying the expansion of E-15 just makes sense.

“It would be a great advantage in terms of air quality, in terms of new market demand for our corn” he said.

However, then-EPA Director Scott Pruitt had the final say in lifting the restrictions that prevent E-15 from being sold to non-flex fuel cars from June first to September 15th. It's estimated that allowing E-15 year round would add tens of millions of gallons to the domestic demand. With Pruitt out, Hill says Wheeler, and President Trump, need to make good on the administration's promises.

“We do need a certainty, and certainty has been lacking. A lot of announcements of promises and so on, but we need the announcement that it's actually real and going to take place” said Hill.

Farmers say the move is needed following the tariffs placed on China.

“It'd be a big benefit to the farmers since it'd be additional value added to the farm commodity” said Farmer Dale Escher

And that eventually they trust the administration will keep their promise on E-15.

“I'm pretty certain that it'll get done. Ethanol industry is behind it, obviously the Farm Bureau is behind it, and our president would also like to see higher blends of ethanol” said Mike Schaefer.

Hill says Wheeler has been invited back to Iowa to learn more about the product and visit Iowa farms.