Waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard granted by the Environmental Protection Agency to oil refineries are blamed for the temporary shutdown of a Siouxland Energy Cooperative ethanol plant in Sioux Center, The Journal reported on Wednesday. Expect more such fallout in farm country if the Trump administration doesn't address the waiver problem.
The federal RFS began with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. be blended with a minimum volume of renewable fuels, like corn-based ethanol. RFS waivers have increased dramatically under the Trump administration. According to a recent story from The Journal's Des Moines bureau, no more than eight waivers were granted in any one year between 2013 and 2015, but the EPA retroactively granted 19 waivers for 2016, then granted 35 waivers for 2017 and 31 for 2018.
However, a glimmer of optimism for renewable-fuel leaders like Iowa emerged on this issue within the last week.
According to published reports, a plan is under consideration by the Trump administration through which gallons of renewable fuels lost through RFS waivers would be replaced.
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President Trump met with Midwest leaders, including U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, on the subject last week. In a story this week from The Journal's Des Moines bureau, Grassley said he left the meeting with a "positive feeling" about a favorable resolution to concerns about the harmful consequences of RFS waivers on the renewable-fuel industry.
"I think we've got something that the industry and I, as a senator, can support," Grassley said in the story. "But I'm not going to say absolutely until I see it on paper because I figure Big Oil has a big influence on the EPA."
We give credit to elected and industry leaders in Midwest farm states who we believe contributed in no insignificant fashion, through their lobbying of the Trump administration, to talk of a deal on RFS waivers, just as we give them credit for successful lobbying of the administration on year-round sales of E15. If he announces a resolution to criticism of RFS waivers, we will give credit to President Trump for listening and acting, just as we did when he made his E15 announcement earlier this year.
Now, Mr. President, about that trade war with China ...