Iowa ag, biofuel groups press Trump on need for strong RFS

By Erin Voegele | August 18, 2020

Leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Biodiesel Board published an open letter to President Trump on Aug. 18 expressing the need for robust and stable markets for crops and biofuels.

The letter coincided with Trump’s Aug. 18 visit to Iowa to discuss damage caused by a historic “derecho” windstorm the previous week that may have impacted up to 14 million acres of Iowa’s crops.

“On behalf of Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers, we want to thank you for visiting Iowa during this very trying time,” the groups wrote. “The loss of key export markets, abuse of Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) refinery exemptions by the EPA, and the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 have combined to stretch rural Iowa to its limit.”

While the groups said they appreciate the expedited approval of needed disaster aid, they stressed “rural Iowa will not complete the long road back to normal without robust and stable markets for our crops and biofuels.”

“So we write today beseeching you to fulfill your promise to protect the RFS and to implement the program at statutory levels,” they continued. “One senior White House official has even told us that the 15-billion-gallon conventional level for the RFS was ‘biblical’ to you. Yet, the fact of the matter is that the RFS has not actually been enforced at the statutory levels during the four years of your presidency.”

The letter stresses that the EPA has already undermined the RFS by granting dozens of illegal small refinery exemptions (SREs), which have destroyed demand for more than 4 billion gallons of biofuels, and in turn destroys markets for Iowa corn and soybean crops.

“Now, the EPA is considering a plan to double-down on efforts to undermine the RFS with retroactive handouts that would allow multi-billion-dollar oil companies to claim ‘hardship’ exemptions from obligations dating as far back as 2011,” the groups wrote. “These retroactive handouts are designed to sidestep a January 2020 court ruling curtailing EPA’s abuse of RFS exemption provisions.

“Mr. President, you have the power to immediately end the frustration of farmers related to biofuels and to remove all doubt of your commitment to the RFS,” they continued. “Please order EPA Administrator Wheeler to reject all of the nearly 60 new, baseless RFS exemption petitions and to apply the 10th Circuit decision to all pending RFS refinery exemption requests. Uphold the integrity of the law by enforcing that 15 billion gallons of corn-ethanol means corn ethanol or remove the cap for corn all together so that farmers have access to the market for clean-burning homegrown fuels.

“Make no mistake, we often hear from farmers: ‘If we can’t trust the Trump Administration to do the right thing before the election, then why on Earth would we expect them to treat us fairly after the election?’ Many rural voters are waiting to see if you will uphold the RFS and your promise before the election. Iowa may very well hang in the balance.”

The letter concludes by urging Trump to immediately direct the EPA to reject all gal year SRE petitions and apply the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to all SRE petitions going forward.

A full copy of the letter is available on the IRFA website

 

 

 
 
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