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Biofuels get a boost

Administration delivers on president’s promise to farmers

President Donald Trump is delivering on the promise he made to keep the renewable fuels industries vibrant. On Oct. 4, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced that an agreement had been negotiated that will reverse the EPA’s long-term undermining of the Renewable Fuels Standard. Beyond that, important related changes are underway that will improve the ability of ethanol and biodiesel producers to thrive.

Congress adopted the RFS to promote the use of renewable fuels. It requires that refineries blend ethanol with oil-based fuels. Each year targets are set regarding the amount of ethanol that must be included in fuels sold in the U.S. To prevent hardship for small refineries, the EPA can grant waivers if it finds that the RFS is unfairly burdensome. Unfortunately, partly due to pressure from oil industry lobbyists, waivers have been granted without much regard to the impact on ethanol producers. The new agreement will make sure that the amount of ethanol collectively blended by all categories of refineries is in sync with targets that will allow the ethanol industry to grow. Additionally, new regulations are in the works that will strengthen E15 sales. Importantly, new policies are also being promulgated to facilitate expanded biodiesel production.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has worked hard in conjunction with U.S. senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, to make sure Trump understands the needs of the renewable fuels industries, welcomed the new pact enthusiastically.

“A robust Renewable Fuel Standard is critical to a healthy ag economy in Iowa and across the nation,” she said. “We are grateful to President Trump for honoring the federal statute to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually, and allowing existing E10 pumps to deliver E15 fuel, helping drive domestic demand for biofuels. By protecting the RFS, President Trump demonstrated his commitment to rural America and the American farmer.”

Mike Naig, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, has just released data underlining the significance of the renewable fuels industries for the Hawkeye State’s economy. According to Naig:

• Iowa annually produces about 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol and 365 million gallons of biodiesel.

• The biofuels industries support 48,000 jobs in Iowa.

Reynolds, Grassley and Ernst have been strong champions of ethanol and biodiesel. Without their tireless efforts, oil industry advocates might have succeeded in lobbying efforts to undercut the RFS. Fortunately, this trio of powerful Republicans has been heard clearly in the White House. That is wonderful news for farmers and biofuels producers as well as for our state’s economy. The Messenger applauds this new agreement.