The Administration cannot forget about commitments to Iowans
Farmers are no strangers in working through ups and downs in the markets and cycles of high financial stress. Unfortunately, when we have a bureaucratic agency actively undermining our domestic biofuels industry and an administration’s promises to farmers, it seems as if we are approaching uncharted territory.
The president offered a strong, public commitment to our farmers, those who make a living in the biofuels industry, and the state of Iowa. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is effectively throwing those promises out the window. The EPA can no longer continue to undermine an industry this critical to the health of rural America.
Biofuel production adds value to rural communities, is positive for our environment and to America’s energy security. That value is now being threatened by the EPA’s mismanagement.
The latest round of 31 exemptions destroyed 1.43 billion gallons of biofuel demand. What’s even more astonishing, to date the EPA’s 85 handouts to the oil sector have now destroyed 4.04 billion gallons of biofuel demand – the market for more than 1.4 billion bushels of American corn.
Just last month, Plymouth Energy in Merrill halted production and more plants throughout the heartland are now threatened. It is difficult to believe, but U.S. ethanol consumption recently fell for the first time in 20 years. This directly impacts the pocketbooks of Iowans and our rural communities that rely on a stronger demand and fair market access for homegrown biofuels.
The latest reports from Washington indicate the White House has decided to reengage on the issue, and are looking for a fix, but the damage has gone too far to take anything at face value at this point – good or bad. We have also heard the EPA is working on a “reset” of the 14-year-old Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to go along with near-zero-growth biofuel targets for 2020. This approach will effectively flat line biofuel demand and have an economically stifling effect on rural communities.
Farmers are watching intently for any sign of relief, but the only thing that really matters is how many gallons of demand will be restored by 2020. After that, it’s just more campaign promises, and this EPA doesn’t have a great track record of keeping those to Iowa’s farm families.
This isn’t about politics any longer. It’s about protecting our communities, our economic security, and a way of life. I urge President Trump to stand up for rural communities, keep his commitments to farmers and demand his EPA reallocate those lost gallons immediately.
State Senator Annette Sweeney is vice-chair of the Iowa Senate Ag Committee. Sweeney, of Buckeye, represents Iowa Senate District 25.