Biofuels must be part of the conversation: Letter

Source: By Globe Gazette • Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The past few months have been incredibly difficult for Iowa’s agriculture and biofuels sectors. As many of us who farm corn and soybeans already know, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge drop in fuel demand. This created a deficit in ethanol demand that’s being felt throughout our state’s rural economy. But this is far from the only major issue facing Iowa agriculture.

Even before the market’s reaction to coronavirus began, farmers have been battling against bureaucratic agencies sidestepping the Renewable Fuel Standard and edging biofuels out of the fuel supply. One of the most critical issues is with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) small refinery exemptions (SREs), which grant waivers to oil companies to ignore their renewable fuel blending requirements. For years, oil state lobbyists and legislators have fought for these exemptions that undermine demand for corn and soybeans.

Well over 100 biofuels plants in the Midwest have idled or cut production since the economic shutdown. Meanwhile, Washington is bailing out oil companies after the pandemic. Now, it feels like Washington bureaucrats are relentlessly piling on.

Vice President Pence visited our neighbors in Winnebago County this week for a discussion with Iowa leaders. I hope biofuels were not left out of the conversation. The White House needs to reign in the EPA and truly adhere to the nation’s biofuel law. It’s critical that the EPA starts treating agriculture fairly and upholding the RFS before permanent damage is caused to our rural communities. There is an election this fall, and voters across the Heartland will be paying close attention to plans to rebuild our rural economy.