Congressman Adrian Smith asks for public comments on EPA ethanol policy

Source: By By Robert Pore, Grand Island Independent • Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019

Rep. Adrian Smith and the Nebraska Corn Board are asking Nebraskan to publicly comment regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuels Standard.

According to Smith, on Oct. 4, President Donald Trump announced an agreement to reallocate Small Refinery Exemptions for large or unqualified refiners under the RFS. But 11 days later, Smith said, the EPA released a proposal with substantial loopholes which would allow it to avoid fulfilling the full obligation of the of the law.

He said the EPA hosted a public hearing on their RFS proposal and started a 30-day comment period.

“The EPA’s RFS policy has been wildly inconsistent,” Smith said. “This policy is the latest example of the EPA failing to effectively implement promises the President has made to farmers, refiners and consumers. Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler must follow the law when it comes to the RFS. All those affected by the EPA’s actions should use the public comment period to make their voice heard.”

Nebraska is the second leading ethanol producing state with a production capacity of 2.5 billion gallons. More than 700 million bushels of Nebraska corn or more than 40 percent goes to ethanol production. More than 90% of the ethanol produced in Nebraska is exported to either other states or to foreign countries.

A by-product of the ethanol production process is distiller’s grain, which is also an important export commodity for Nebraska.

Smith cry for action on the RFS comes at a time when Bloomberg News recently reported that U.S. farm bankruptcies in September surged 24% to the highest since 2011 amid strains from Trump’s trade war with China and weather problems throughout the year.

According to the Bloomberg News report, almost 40% of projected farm profit this year will come from trade aid, disaster assistance, federal subsidies and insurance payments.

The story said that Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in the 12 months ended September rose to 580 from a year earlier. The story said that marked the highest since 676 cases in 2011 under the chapter of the bankruptcy code tailored for farms.

Nebraska had three more Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in September, bringing the year-to-date total to 35. That’s eight more than all of last year and more than in any full year since 2003, the story said.

The Nebraska’s corn industry expressed anger and frustration with the EPA and urged the agency to follow through with Trump’s promise to accurately account for expected waivers in the 2020 RFS volume rule.

Jeff Wilkerson, director of market development with the Nebraska Corn Board, recently testified at the EPA hearing to review the agency’s supplemental proposal to the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligation rulemaking.

“Farmers are feeling angry and ignored,” he said in his testimony. “Your (EPA’s) proposal does not account for actual waived gallons under the RFS, and it doesn’t follow the deal that was agreed upon with the administration, congressional representatives and governors. Do you know what this means for corn farmers? One hundred ninety million bushels of annual corn demand eliminated, equating to more than a million acres of corn every single year.”

Wilkerson said corn farmers and supporters of renewable fuels have until Nov. 29 to submit comments to the EPA to tell the Agency to follow through on the President’s commitments to farmers and the RFS.

Concern farmers can comment about the EPA policy at https://www.regulations.gov

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