Farmers Will Be Happy With Ethanol Plan Once They ‘Fully Understand’: Perdue

Source: By Jeff Barber, OPIS • Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a Monday Cabinet meeting that the Trump administration has “balanced” small-refinery exemptions (SREs) with help for the biofuel and agriculture sectors and told the president that farmers will be “fine,” once they “fully understand what you’ve done.”

Perdue’s comments come as biofuel and agricultural groups continue to criticize as insufficient EPA’s Oct. 15 proposal to adjust how annual renewable fuel blending percentages are calculated.

EPA is requesting comment on a plan that would see it project the volume of gasoline and diesel that would be lost to RFS compliance through SREs based on a three-year rolling average of the relief recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy, including waiver petitions for which DOE had advised EPA to provide partial exemptions.

EPA said it intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when deciding on 2020 SRE petitions, adding that it would use this value to adjust its calculation of renewable fuel percentages to ensure obligated parties under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blend the actual biofuel volumes set out by the agency. The plan also disappointed the biofuel industry and agricultural groups because it did not propose any increase in the 2020 RVO.

In remarks to reporters before the Cabinet meeting began, President Donald Trump told EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that he knows the agency is “working on the small refineries getting straightened away so that it’s going to be terrific for these small refiners. They’ve been hurt for a long time and we gave them waivers for this year … and that’s a lot.

“I wanted to work on that to make sure that small refiners are happy,” Trump said, according to a White House press pool recording.

Trump said his administration also has worked to fix “the whole situation with ethanol that has been going on for so long, so many years.” Ethanol, he added, has been “fully approved” and invited Perdue to discuss what the administration has done to help farmers and ethanol producers.

Perdue pointed to EPA’s approval in late May of a final rule allowing year-round sales of E15, saying “that’s what we really need to build infrastructure.”

“We also balanced up small refinery waivers with the farmers and the RFS and once they fully understand what you’ve done here, they’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, they seem to be happy,” Trump said of farmers. “They deserve to be happy. They’ve gone through a lot,” including being “targeted” by China in the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.