Ethanol Blog

Ethanol Plant Employees Ask Trump to Order EPA to Stop Waivers

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of more than 90 ethanol plant employees asked President Donald Trump on Monday to change direction on EPA's granting of small-refinery waivers. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Matthew Wilde)

A group of 94 ethanol plant employees from across the countryasked President Donald Trump to reallocate gallons lost to small-refinery waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard, in a letter to the president on Monday.

Reports surfaced last week the Trump administration is considering reallocating gallons waived to larger refiners. Since 2016, the EPA dramatically increased the number of exemptions it approved. The agency has granted 85 waivers during the Trump administration totaling 4.03 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons not blended in petroleum products including biodiesel.

"We write to request that you call upon the Environmental Protection Agency to honor your commitment to American biofuels and rural prosperity," write the employees who are members of the ethanol interest group Growth Energy. "The future of our industry and the livelihoods of millions of biofuel workers and farmers are in your hands.

"We deeply appreciate that this White House fought for rural America by lifting outdated regulations on E15; thank you. But, the EPA's actions threaten to undo your good work. Over the last three years, the EPA has abused the small refinery exemption process and issued 85 SREs, including handouts to some of the world's largest oil companies. Each exemption erodes the Renewable Fuel Standard, cutting biofuels from the market and eliminating the incentive to offer lower-cost options at the fuel pump, including the E15 blends you made possible year-round."

The employees said the waivers have contributed to "many plants" idling production or shutting down.

"Right now, hundreds of millions of gallons of production remain offline, with plants impacted in Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nebraska," they wrote.

"Each time a plant idles production, farmers are notified that biofuel producers can no longer accept grain deliveries, and the impact has been devastating for communities already on the edge. Farm income is now down by half since the start of this year alone, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Without your support, this harvest could be the last for many families.

"Every new exemption is a threat to hundreds of thousands of jobs across the heartland. Make no mistake, the rural manufacturing that keeps our communities strong could soon vanish if unelected bureaucrats at the EPA continue to eliminate the market for biofuels. America would no longer be the world's top producer and exporter of ethanol."

The employees told the president that oil companies saw their most profitable years since 2013.

"Rural workers and farmers can no longer pay the price for handouts to oil giants like Exxon and Chevron," the letter said.

"We appreciate you acknowledging our concerns and vowing 'to support our ethanol industry and to fight for the American farmer like no president has ever fought before.' Unfortunately, the time to address this crisis is running out, and the EPA has turned a deaf ear to rural families. The agency is even considering a rule that would freeze growth and block efforts to repair the damage done by SREs.

"Our industry has long been a pillar of strength in farm communities, where American families are looking to the White House for leadership, but the EPA is ravaging the rural economy in your name. Only you can turn it around, and we offer whatever support we can to make it happen."

Read the letter here: https://growthenergy.org/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(TN)

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