Energy & Environment

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.

{mosads}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 Trump 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 Grassley (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 Ernst (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.

Tags Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Ethanol Ethanol fuel Gasoline Joni Ernst United States Environmental Protection Agency
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