President Donald Trump gave a shout out to farmers and the ethanol industry during a stop in Dubuque, Iowa, on Thursday. Donning green and yellow "Make Our America's Farmers Great Again" hats, Trump told the audience his administration was "very close" to approving year-round E15 sales and that his administration is "taking care of your ethanol."
The president's comments come during the same week EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press interview that E15 approval would need to be part of a package deal that gives something to oil industry interests. It isn't the first time the idea of a package deal came about. Such a deal was expected to occur following one of several White House meetings with industry officials and lawmakers, but was killed at the last minute.
Part of that deal was an idea to attach renewable identification numbers, or RINs, to exported ethanol gallons as a way to reduce refiner costs to comply with the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said in a press statement on Thursday that he appreciates Trump's reiteration for the need for year-round E15.
"But we are concerned that the president is being told it is 'a very complex process' -- which likely refers to some in the administration wanting to package E15 relief with other anti-biofuels provisions," Shaw said. "President Trump himself has previously called the restriction on E15 'unnecessary and ridiculous' and EPA has publicly stated it has the authority to grant E15 RVP relief. Given the past demand destruction and ongoing limits to ethanol exports, it is unnecessary and ridiculous to delay year-round E15 one more day. Now is the time to keep the president's promise to remove restrictions on higher blends. Now is the time to take this simple step to create a new domestic market for ag commodities.
"Well, Iowans are asking where was the package deal when the EPA destroyed over 2 billion gallons of demand with dubious small refinery exemptions? Where was the package deal when over 300 million gallons were destroyed with the sweetheart PES (Philadelphia Energy Solutions) bankruptcy giveaway? Where was the package deal when the trade dispute slammed the door shut on the potential 500-million-gallon Chinese export market for ethanol?"
Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said in a statement to DTN farmers need help.
"We are encouraged President Trump once again has expressed support for removing antiquated regulatory barriers to the year-round use of E15. More importantly, he did so today outside the context of some kind of 'deal' to help refiners," Dinneen said. "Refiners are doing quite fine today, seeing record profits and unprecedented exports. Farmers are not. Farmers are suffering from unfair trade barriers and chronically low commodity prices. Farmers need relief now in the form of increased market opportunities. E15 year-round would do that. EPA should abandon efforts to tie consumer choice on ethanol to some kind of additional relief for refiners already benefiting from Scott Pruitt's demand destruction campaign and initiate an E15 regulatory reform rule today."
Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor said, "Increased access to U.S. markets will provide America's farmers with some financial confidence, and we hope that President Trump will direct the EPA to act quickly to provide year-round RVP relief." Growth Energy is running a television spot asking Trump to uphold his promise to farmers by allowing the sale of E15 year-round.
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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