EPA’s Scott Pruitt is making a ‘liar’ out of Trump, ethanol advocate says

Source: By Steve Jordan, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Friday, June 15, 2018

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is risking “making a liar out of the president,” the head of an ethanol industry group said Wednesday.

“It’s just chipping away at biofuel demand,” said Emily Skor, chief executive of Energy Growth, an ethanol advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. She was in Omaha for the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, held at the CenturyLink Center.

In response, an Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said, without naming Skor, “There are those who are willing to engage in solutions and those who want to promote a false sense of division between Administrator Pruitt and farmers across the country.”

In an interview, Skor said Pruitt has granted more waivers than usual to U.S. petroleum refineries, allowing them to skip blending ethanol into fuel without requiring increased blending elsewhere.

As a result, Skor said, the fuel industry stands to fall an estimated 1.5 billion gallons short of the 15 billion gallons of blended fuel required this year.

Last year President Donald Trump promised that the 15 billion target would be met, she said, allowing farmers and ethanol producers to continue what she said was a “banner year” for ethanol production in 2017.

Given the EPA’s recent actions, she said, “the net impact is, you are breaking your promise to uphold the law, destroying demand for ethanol and making a liar out of the president.”

Skor said the EPA’s waiver process has been “opaque” but she believes it isn’t in keeping with Trump’s pledge. “We have to get the EPA to follow through on what the president said he would do.”

Skor wasn’t the only one criticizing EPA policies this week. Pruitt faced similar comments in a meeting with farmers in Manhattan, Kansas, on Tuesday.

“To be honest, Administrator Pruitt, we’re mad as hell,” said Dennis McNinch of Utica, Kansas, a member of the farm group Kansas Corn, according to the Fence Post, a weekly agricultural newspaper based in Greeley, Colorado.

McNinch said the EPA’s policies favor petroleum companies over ethanol producers, but Pruitt told the group that the EPA’s policies are designed to be fair to all energy producers.

pastedGraphic.pngIn an emailed statement, the EPA spokesman said the meeting in Kansas and later meetings in South Dakota reflected farmers’ passion regarding ethanol production “through candid and constructive dialogue. The administrator appreciates the hospitality in both states and is always willing to engage with stakeholders and finds this engagement an essential part of the decision-making process.”

The spokesman said the criteria to grant waivers hasn’t changed since the previous administration and follows “a long-standing, objectively determined process” that uses a Department of Energy analysis to make decisions based on confidential business information.

Skor also said more retailers are selling fuel with 15 percent ethanol, a blend that the industry says causes less pollution, costs less and has a higher octane rating. (The petroleum industry counters that many engines are not made to use 15 percent ethanol blends and can be damaged by using the fuel.)

Skor said the ethanol industry did well in 2017, producing 15.8 billion gallons, exporting 1.37 billion gallons and defeating policy proposals that would restrict its production.

At the same time, she said, ethanol producers are adopting new technologies that are more efficient.

One of the industry’s goals for this year is to allow the sale of 15 percent blended fuel in the summertime, which is restricted by a federal law based on higher evaporation during the warmer summer months.

Ethanol backers say the rule is “outdated” and favor legislation that would allow year-round 15 percent blends.