Farm Groups and Lawmakers Express Anger with Trump, EPA Over Final Ethanol Rules

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 20, 2019 at 8:51am

Some farm groups and farm-state lawmakers expressed anger at the Trump administration Thursday over final ethanol rules that they said failed to uphold the president’s promises to the industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency released its final renewable fuel standard but it did not include language that President Donald Trump agreed to in meetings with industry officials, and Iowa’s governor and congressional representatives during September and October according to the Associated Press.

The A.P. report says that the final agreement does not include language Trump agreed to that the EPA will add ethanol gallons back into the nation’s gasoline supply based on the exemptions granted in the past three years. Instead the final rule says EPA will base oil refinery exemptions on Energy Department recommendations.

The ethanol industry and corn farmers who raise the grain that’s made into ethanol said the agreed upon language would have created market certainty by assuring the industry that it would meet the 15 billion gallons (56.78 billion liters) of corn-based ethanol for 2020 mandated by federal renewable fuel standard law.

Roughly 40% of U.S. corn is used to produce ethanol so fewer ethanol gallons means a reduced market for corn. The EPA issued 85 retroactive small refinery exemptions for the 2016-2018 compliance years, undercutting the renewable fuel volumes by a total of 4 billion gallons, (15.1 billion liters) according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

Ethanol and corn industry groups said language in the rule leaves too much at the whim of federal bureaucrats and could cause ethanol use to fall short.

Ethanol industry officials said at least 20 U.S. ethanol plants have closed at least temporarily since September 2018 due in part to the reduction of ethanol use in the nation’s fuel supply because of EPA policy.