Cullen raising important issues | The Storm Lake Times

Source: By Doug Sombke, The Storm Lake Times • Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2019


You recently wrote a Pulitzer-grade piece on President Trump, former Governor Branstad, and the ethanol wars that are raging in Iowa. You correctly noted that the Democratic Presidential candidates are watching things closely and attempting to exploit the issue. However, many of the issues connected with the RFS seem to be intractable and have evaded solution for years now. Congressional gridlock prevents any legislative fix.

However, there are signs of bipartisan movement toward more innovative solutions that do not require Congressional action, only a stroke of this or the next President’s pen. A recent The Hill op-ed, “Environmental Advocates Should Take Another Look at Biofuels” by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and former Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO) expressed growing bipartisan support for regulatory policies to reduce transportation sector carbon footprints and harmful toxics emissions. Advances in agricultural production, high octane renewable fuels manufacture, and fuel combustion technologies in the U.S., China, Brazil, and other nations offer dramatic benefits in terms of the public health and welfare, rural economies, and reduced oil consumption. The U.S. and China account for one-third of global automobile use and their gasoline, especially aromatic hydrocarbons-related, mobile source emissions.  Policies that improve fuel quality and vehicle efficiency which reduce harmful emissions in those countries would be adopted by other nations, thus preventing millions of premature mortalities and improving quality of lives worldwide.

We noted that your article was printed in The Guardian, a respected journal which recently reported on a landmark study which is directly relevant to the use of ethanol in the U.S. and worldwide:  “Revealed: air pollution may be damaging  ‘every organ in the body’.”  The lead author of the study is Dr. Dean Schraufnagel from the University of Illinois-Chicago and we are working with him and others to help them appreciate the direct connection between the harmful compounds in gasoline identified by the two Senators and the most dangerous pollutants in urban environments.

As I said, the beauty of our proposed solution is that Congressional action is not required. A mandatory statute has been on the books for years, but EPA bureaucrats have defied clear Congressional intent and refused to enforce the law. I recently wrote President Trump urging him to exercise his considerable powers by directing EPA to require high octane, low carbon ethanol blends like E30, which automakers have requested for years. With one stroke of his pen, President Trump could get the RFS monkey off his back, protect the health of all Americans, help the auto industry make more fuel efficient high performance vehicles, and reduce the need for imported oil by one billion barrels or more per year (in effect a “renewable Strategic Fuel Reserve” that replenishes itself every day). blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/459240-a-farmers-plea-to-the-president-fix-our-fuel

U.S. farmers would no longer be dependent upon fragile export markets, the nation’s trade deficit would be dramatically reduced, and the RFS targets would be fulfilled via marketplace forces. Best of all, our nation’s children would lead healthier and more productive lives.

Mr. Cullen, thank you for raising some very important issues at a very important time for the economies of Iowa and the nation.


President, South Dakota Farmers Union