Iowa Biofuel Leaders React to ‘Disappointing’ EPA Proposal

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- On October 4th, Iowa lawmakers came into an agreement with the White House to require 15 billions gallons of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Yesterday, the EPA released a draft proposal which did not reflect what was promised by the Trump administration.

“We had a deal with the President on October fourth and we supported that deal and the mechanism. It was locked it was transparent. It was accountable. It was based on real data,” said Monte Shaw executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). “Eleven days later the EPA rolled out the wording for it, and all of a sudden the mechanism that we all supported was gone.”

In a press release from earlier this month the EPA said it would take actions to ensure that 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol would be used by the beginning of next year, but at the time specifics were not released.

On average over the last three years the EPA has offered small refinery exemptions amounting to about 1.5 billions gallons a year, which is drastically short of the requirement of 15 billion gallons set by the Renewable Fuel Standard. 

“These waivers that come through, giving people the out to not use ethanol definitely hurts our end market,” said Polk City farmer Corey Hillebo. “Corn prices would obviously go down we would have to find different avenues to use it.” 

In the past several months, four Iowa biofuel plants have closed directly affecting 150-200 jobs of local Iowans. Each plant would also receive deliveries from up to 200 trucks a day that would drop off corn and feed stock. The biofuel industry supports over 48,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.

The ag economy represents about 25 percent of the overall Iowa economy,” said Shaw. “So whether you live on a farm or whether you're working in downtown Des Moines. If Iowa's ag economy is hurting, Iowa’s economy is hurting. It affects you.”

Iowa legislators are holding President Trump to his original promise and are expecting the EPA to follow the his lead.

“I heard the president, the vice president, the secretary of agriculture, the director of EPA… six senators that where there, Governor Kim Reynolds was there... other people heard the agreement and this agreement better be carried out by EPA,” said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.

Iowa agriculture leaders are urging the public to have their opinions heard during the 30-day period for public comment on the Federal Register.

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