Corn Board disappointed with new EPA, Trump plans

Source: By ZACH ROTH, The Columbus Telegram • Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019

It seemed like the reaction from Nebraska farmers and political officials were universally positive when President Donald Trump reached a proposed agreement Oct. 4 on the Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.

At first, 15 billion gallons worth of conventional ethanol were slated to be a part of the final calculations, a number that made the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association extremely happy.

“We’ve been waiting for a reallocation of waived gallons for a long time,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “To say we were upset with the refinery wavers is an understatement.”

“We just can’t get a win,” Nerud said in a statement Tuesday after the Environmental Protection Agency released supplemental rules different than the ones agreed in the initial deal. “We truly thought the administration was on the right track with the Oct. 4 announcement from President Trump. However, the devil is in the details.”

Those details included a provision that made the recommendation of waived gallons from the Department of Energy the basis for reallocation of fuel. That amount is significantly less than what the Corn Board and Corn Growers were asking for before.

The board’s overall goal in regards to the agreement is to give the RFS a sense of integrity, something that Corn Board Executive Director Kelly Brunkhorst said he believes this announcement does not do.

“Our message has been restoring integrity to the RFS,” Brunkhorst told The Telegram.

Brunkhorst explained that for the amount of fuel that refineries get exempted for, that amount must be reallocated among those obligated to receive it. In 2019, that number was 1.4 billion gallons of fuel.

“There was supposed to be 15 billion gallons of ethanol used on an annual basis at this point in time,” Brunkhorst said. “Because of those waivers, it’s much less than that.”

 Brunkhorst said he doesn’t know what changed in 11 days that made it less of a good deal for Nebraska corn. What he does know is that a tough year for farmers in the state has been made even tougher by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) going back on what was agreed upon in the initial deal.