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Midwest Republicans say EPA’s Proposed Rule on RFS Hurts American Farmers


By Ripon Advance News Service

Washington DC November 12, 2019; Republican senators representing Midwest states expressed concerns that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed supplemental rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program would harm the economies of biofuel-producing states.

In separate comments submitted last week to the Federal Register, U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) wrote to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and weighed in on the proposed rule that seeks to adjust the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated.

“The EPA’s proposed rule fails to ensure that 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol are actually blended into our nation’s fuel supply,” said Sen. Fischer. “In my letter, I called on Administrator Wheeler to fulfill the president’s commitment and provide certainty for rural America,” added Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The EPA’s supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, released on Oct. 15, would not accurately account for biofuel gallons lost due to small oil refinery exemptions, the senators wrote, and would ultimately harm farm economies throughout the Midwest.

The supplemental notice falls short of the original agreement that was announced on Oct. 4 by the White House, EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote domestic ethanol and biodiesel production, the senators said.

“… The EPA’s proposed rule fails to honor the agreement which the president directed them to formalize,” Sen. Rounds said. “Taking steps to fully restore the integrity of the RFS will honor the agreement as Congress intended.”

Sen. Ernst said the EPA’s disbursement of small refinery waivers has stifled the biofuels industry. She noted that Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.4 billion gallons annually.

“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,” wrote Sen. Ernst.

Sen. Blunt said the EPA’s failure to support the biofuels industry is further straining farmers in Missouri, a state that has already suffered from catastrophic flooding and market uncertainty.

“Renewable energy policies like the RFS have helped diversify our nation’s fuel supply while creating and sustaining jobs, strengthening local economies, and lowering gas prices,” he said. “I urge the administration to produce a final rule that addresses the concerns my colleagues and I have raised and supports America’s biofuels producers,” Sen. Blunt added.