Farm and business leaders press for biofuels expansion

Source: By Steve White, NTV • Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2018

Now more than ever, farmers tell the USDA to be a champion for farm families across the Midwest, and end regulations they say hold farmers back.

In letters to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, more than 100 business and farm leaders across seven Midwest states are asking the EPA to allow the sale of 15 percent ethanol year-round.

Several Nebraskans signed the letter, including Deb Gangwish of Shelton, Steve Bristol of Ravenna, James Hultman of Sutton, and Curtis Rohich of Wood River.

“New markets for American-made biofuels promise to rejuvenate growth, but long-standing policies designed to promote cleaner, more cost-effective options at the fuel pump have been under siege by special interests in Washington,” wrote 73 business groups and Midwest employers. “We ask that you stand firm against these attacks and use every tool available to prevent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt from adopting regulatory schemes that would further undercut demand for biofuels and their energy-rich farm feedstocks.”

In their letter, they referenced the five year slide in farm income, and said it stands to hurt the rural economy beyond the farm.

“For far too long, the EPA has failed to update regulations on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), which hold E15 to tougher standards than traditional gasoline during the summer,” wrote 37 Midwest agricultural groups and farmers, who harvest the renewable energy for nearly every gallon of U.S. ethanol. “There’s no reason for the restriction, which prohibits many retailers from offering cleaner, more-affordable options to their customers. Lifting these needless restrictions would provide a vital outlet for America’s 3.9 billion bushels of surplus grain, boost rural growth, and promote American energy dominance.”

It’s the latest in a campaign by Growth Energy, a biofuels trade organization.

Currently, E15 availability changes on June 1, and Growth Energy’s CEO argues that cuts off millions of drivers from using the higher ethanol blend.

Emily Skor said, “President Trump promised Midwest lawmakers that he would fast-track a fix, and Secretary Perdue is working with the EPA on a solution, but time is running out. Farmers cannot afford to be locked out of the market for another driving season, especially when we could be holding down quickly-rising gas prices.”

The RVP guidelines were developed prior to E15 hitting the market, and ethanol backers say the restrictions are outdated. E15 is approved for use in all vehicles made since 2001.

“Ethanol is really about enhancing the value of corn, as I sell #2 corn as a commodity and then buy distillers grain as a feed for my cow herd, and then you add in the cleaner air that ethanol provides, it is such a win-win for Nebraskans”, stated LaVon Heidemann of Elk Creek another signer on the letter.