Nebraska’s corn producers were caught by surprise on Oct. 15 when the Environmental Protection Agency released its proposal for changes in the way it sets annual percentages spelling out how much renewable fuel refiners must blend into gasoline and diesel.
Only two weeks earlier, the Trump administration had agreed to a deal to raise biofuel-blending requirements and offset EPA waivers exempting some small refineries from the mandates that were supported by the ethanol industry and corn producers. But the EPA proposal is not that deal.
Just this past week, documents were released by the government that show the White House agreed to this flawed proposal, even though its Department of Agriculture warned that it was inconsistent with what the White House had promised the biofuel industry.
Ethanol officials and farm groups had pushed for the EPA to use actual statistics in offsetting waivers exempting small refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate so that the country would ensure there will be more than 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel blended into the country’s fuel supply beginning next year.
The Oct. 1 agreement was trumpeted as showing President Trump’s dedication to supporting the country’s farmers and its ethanol industry.
But then the actual proposal came out and caused serious doubt about that dedication. Instead of using the actual three-year average of exempted gallons, it uses Energy Department recommendations for waivers that were sometimes disregarded.
The earlier agreement would have increased the amount of biofuels in the transportation sector by about 1.35 billion gallons per year, while the EPA proposal will increase it by just 770 million gallons.
It is time for Nebraska corn producers and ethanol supporters to speak out and hold Trump responsible for the Oct. 1 agreement.
A public hearing on the EPA proposal will be held at 9 a.m. EST Wednesday in Ypsilanti, Mich., followed by a 30-day comment period to collect input before the proposal is finalized. To comment by phone during the hearing, ethanol supporters can call (866) 295-4630 or (409) 981-0056. The Conference ID is 7193145. The conference line will open at about 8:45 a.m. and the hearing will conclude when all parties who wish to speak have had an opportunity to do so.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who was involved in the negotiations before the Oct. 1 agreement was reached, has said she was disappointed when the EPA proposal didn’t stick to that agreement.
“I encourage Nebraska farmers and ethanol producers to weigh in during this comment period,” Fischer said. “I remain committed to holding the EPA accountable and providing certainty for rural America.”
The only way that the country can truly meet the Renewable Fuel Standard set by Congress is for the public to clearly speak up. Tell the EPA that its proposal isn’t acceptable and must be changed to what was initially agreed to by the Trump administration.