WASHINGTON, DC — The Trump administration released a long-awaited plan to address concerns in the renewable fuel industry on Friday, but the plan was short on details.
Earlier this year the Trump EPA approved 31 waivers from the renewable fuel standard (RFS) that sets a minimum requirement for blending biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply. Those waivers, in effect, canceled the production of more than a billion gallons of biofuels. In Iowa two ethanol facilities have already shutdown due to lack of demand. Ethanol and corn prices have also been negatively affected by the move.
After months of pressure from Midwestern leaders and the renewable fuel industry, the Trump administration finally released a plan to address their concerns. The plan, according to a release from the EPA, is a promise to explore steps to increase the RFS in the future.
The EPA says it will explore expanding the RFS beyond 15 billion gallons beginning next year. The EPA says it will also consider ways to ensure that threshold is met even after future waivers are granted. The EPA says final action on both those fronts will be taken by the end of the year, however specific fixes for those issues were not released.
Iowa Republicans leaders offered universal praise for the plan on Friday morning via press release. All of them agree that the plan boils down to a promise from the Trump administration to finally follow the law when it comes to the RFS.
“The steps outlined today by the administration will help increase demand for our biofuels, provide certainty for farmers and producers for years to come, and ensure that EPA is implementing the RFS as it was written,” Senator Joni Ernst said in a release.
“The solution outlined by President Trump, Administrator Wheeler and Secretary Perdue is exactly how the RFS is meant to function according to the law as written by Congress,” said Senator Charles Grassley in an emailed statement.
Governor Reynolds also thanked the administration for recognizing the RFS laws. “We are grateful to President Trump for honoring the federal statute to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually,” she said in a statement.
Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association says the plan would be a huge victory for Iowa farmers and the renewable fuel industry, but only if it becomes a reality. “We will work with our champions and the White House to make sure the EPA’s final rules ensure that a 15 billion-gallon RFS will actually be a 15 billion-gallon RFS,” Shaw said in a press release, “If that is accomplished, the integrity of the RFS will have been restored and President Trump’s promise to protect and uphold the RFS will have been redeemed.”
A Minnesota ethanol facility has also shut down production due to the RFS waivers approved by the Trump administration. Minnesota Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says today’s announcement doesn’t trust the EPA to follow through with its word.
“President Trump does not get credit for offering a vague promise to try to undo the damage his administration has done to the biofuels industry and rural economies across the Midwest,” she said in a statement, “Even if the president could be counted on to follow through on this promise, I believe it will end up being far too little, far too late.”