Adding to that, the senators’ letter also stated any boost in the 2021 biofuel blend volumes would force consumers to pay higher prices, “creating another drag on the national economy that is in a state of fragile recovery from the depths of the pandemic.” The senators argue that any burden on fuel demand should be shared by petroleum and biofuel producers.
“Simply put, EPA must not mandate blending too much biofuel into a dwindling fuel supply,” the senators wrote. “Ethanol producers and refiners should proportionally share the economic hardships associated with the current declines in fuel demand, rather than having government mandates shift the burdens of the former onto the latter.”
The senators wrote that freezing the RVO would “ensure refiners and retailers can continue to provide American consumers with affordable fuels that are safe for their vehicles and specialized tools, as well as prevent damage to fueling infrastructure” by freezing the ethanol “blend wall” at 10% levels.
The letter to Wheeler was sent by Republican senators from Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Meanwhile, Trump campaigned in Iowa last week where he is in a close race against former Vice President Joe Biden. In Des Moines, Trump said he had delivered on ethanol, adding no president had helped farmers as much as he has done. “I saved ethanol. Ethanol is saved,” Trump said, adding that he ensured ethanol could be sold without requiring blender pumps. “You know, we went through the whole thing where we had no demand because of the pandemic. And we fought hard to keep it going and to keep ethanol going,” Trump said at the Des Moines rally.
Polls show Ernst is slightly behind Democrat Theresa Greenfield in Iowa in a race that could flip control of the U.S. Senate. Greenfield frequently points to small refinery exemptions granted by Wheeler at EPA as cause that Ernst should not have supported Wheeler’s confirmation vote.
“They’ve issued 85 ethanol waivers that has cost us about 4 billion gallons in demand, and that certainly continues to put pressure on our corn prices and commodity prices,” Greenfield told members of the Iowa Farmers Union on a tele-hall event Wednesday.
Ernst, in response to a question from DTN, noted she led a bipartisan effort in May urging the Trump administration to uphold the RFS and reject requests for small-refinery exemptions.
“As I said in May, waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard would not only cause harm to the U.S. economy, but would hurt Iowa’s rural communities, farmers, and biofuel producers. The law is the law, and EPA needs to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Ernst said.
Here is a link to senators’ letter to EPA: https://www.capito.senate.gov/…
The Renewable Fuels Association responded to the letter by stating the oil-state senators are asking EPA to violate the law and ignore a federal appeals court ruling from 2017 stating EPA had abused its general waiver authority on the RFS because of the so-called “blend wall.” Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, stated the oil industry appears to be shifting strategies from small-refinery exemptions to an all-out waiver on the RFS.
“Enough is enough. EPA should immediately reject this attempt to further undermine the RFS with unjustifiable and unlawful waivers,” Cooper said. “The senators’ letter should go straight to EPA’s dumpster, which is already littered with other baseless waiver petitions and ridiculous RFS complaints from oil state politicians and refiners.”
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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