EPA no friend to ethanol

Source: By Tom Briese, Columbus Telegram • Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017

For years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been a nemesis to agriculture and rural America. EPA’s regulatory overreach has stretched from dust to water and greenhouse gases to duplicative pesticide permits. This is why a provision in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law can no longer be ignored.

Congress passed the RFS and its requirements for blending ethanol in 2005 and thereafter ethanol production increased across the United States. Nebraska has benefited greatly from the law and today is the second-largest corn ethanol-producing state.

However, the mandated fuel levels set by Congress in the RFS legislation come to an end in 2022. Beginning in 2023, the EPA will be given the discretion to set biofuel blending requirements at any level. The risk that the EPA uses that discretion to disadvantage corn ethanol is real. The EPA has been no friend to corn ethanol under the Obama administration and President Trump’s appointment of the oil industry-friendly attorney general of Oklahoma as the new EPA administrator is something to watch closely.

With the big change looming in EPA administration of the RFS just six years away, Nebraska and corn ethanol stakeholders need to be thinking and talking about how to protect and grow our industry in the future. As with any industry, corn ethanol and all of its beneficiaries need and deserve more certainty with respect to the future of the RFS.