Iowa senators, governor push EPA to change plan on ethanol

Iowa senators, governor push EPA to change plan on ethanol
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Iowa’s senators and governor are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to abandon its plans to use a formula that corn farmers argue won’t ensure ethanol is blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

The arcane process for adding ethanol to America’s gasoline allows small refineries to get an exemption if it would be a hardship to blend it in, but in theory, larger refineries are supposed to pick up that slack.

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The formula unveiled by the agency last month would require refineries to add ethanol based on projections rather than the actual number of gallons exempted, something farmbelt states argued undercuts the ethanol program.

Many called the latest iteration a bait and switch by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE and the EPA, who previously pledged to increase the number of gallons of ethanol refiners would blend in.

“Now, the way the rule was written and put out for public comment does not deliver on the same understanding I had leaving the Oval Office about what would be in the proposed rule,” Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Congressional authority in a time of Trump executive overreach Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (R-Iowa) wrote in public comments to the EPA, adding that the agency does not have a good track record of making sure that the 15 billion gallons required by law are blended in.

The oil industry and ethanol producers have been stuck in a tug of war over ethanol rules for months, leaving the White House square in the middle.

Though joined by other Midwest states with large farm communities, Iowa’s delegation has been pushing the hardest to change the policy, taking advantage of its status as a crucial election state.

“Plain and simple, if the market for biofuels does not trust EPA to implement the proposal President Trump negotiated, the market will not make investments in biofuels – a dangerous spiral for Iowa farmers and producers which will only lead to more plants closed and jobs lost in the heartland,” Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' MORE (R-Iowa) wrote in response to the proposal.

The EPA stressed that comments would be reviewed as the agency evaluated its proposal.

“The October 15th announcement is the proposed text from our announced agreement on October 4th. EPA is currently seeking comment on the supplemental proposal on how to and at what levels it projects small refinery relief in the 2020 compliance year, these ranges are informed by the last three compliance years and the statutory discretion provided to EPA by Congress. EPA looks forward to receiving and reviewing the comments around our October 15th supplemental proposal,” a spokesman told The Hill by email.

Updated at 7:18 p.m.