Positive quotes from Iowa senators disappear from EPA's latest ethanol announcement

Positive quotes from Iowa senators disappear from EPA's latest ethanol announcement
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed positive quotes from Iowa’s two senators from a release with the latest details on its plan to boost ethanol use — a proposal that is now being opposed by Iowa corn growers and ethanol producers.

When the agency first announced the plan on Oct. 4, it lacked crucial details explaining how EPA would ensure ethanol was blended into the nation’s fuel supply after some small refineries are granted exemptions from adding the ethanol.

In a supplemental proposal from the EPA Tuesday, the agency announced they would rely on projections to determine how many gallons other refineries must blend in, rather than actual totals that were exempted — a move that has enraged Iowa’s agriculture community, who said Wednesday the EPA is reneging on their deal.

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When the EPA made its announcement Tuesday, it included past praise for the ethanol policy from when it was first announced in early October, a detail the agency noted. 

But the online version of that press release has since been changed to remove quotes from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Top GOP senator: Drug pricing action unlikely before end of year Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (R-Iowa) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation MORE (R-Iowa). 

“That quote was for the announcement on Oct. 4,” Michael Zona, a spokesman for Grassley through the Senate Finance Committee said by email before referring further questions to the EPA.

The EPA did not immediately respond to questions about why the quotes from Iowa’s senators were removed from the latest announcement, nor did Ernst’s office respond to request for comment.   

In early October, Grassley praised President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE for delivering a good deal for farmers.

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“These are promises made and promises kept by President Trump. President Trump has made clear that he is an ally of corn and soybean farmers as well as ethanol and biodiesel producers. He is fighting for the farmer. This announcement is great news for Iowa, the Midwest and the entire country,” Grassley said on Oct. 4.

Grassley’s team sent a new comment on the EPA’s latest proposal Wednesday morning, saying the EPA would need to ensure biofuels actually get blended into traditional fuels if farmers are to be happy with any proposal.

"Ultimately, this will come down to trust and implementation at EPA. The ethanol and biodiesel industries have a lot of cause to distrust EPA and that is understandable. But President Trump brokered this deal and any attempt to undermine it from EPA would represent a betrayal of the president. I expect EPA would not do that after all the work that’s gone into this issue,” Grassley said.

Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said Wednesday that corn farmers feel the new EPA proposal could allow the agency to skirt measures for ensuring ethanol gets added into the fuel supply after some small refineries are exempted from doing so. That mechanism, promised to them before the Oct. 4 announcement, was key to getting their support, he said. 

“No more ‘Iowa nice.’ Now, it’s ‘Iowa pissed,’” he told reporters.