GOP senator presses EPA’s Wheeler on 2019 ethanol program

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Iowa’s Joni Ernst did her part to protect the Hawkeye state’s status as the nation’s number one ethanol producer on Friday.

The Republican senator filed comments on the 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard program, pressing Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to increase the corn ethanol mandate next year to make up for the billions of gallons lost under former EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Deadline for filing comments on the new annual requirements for refiners closed Friday night.

“The proposed increase to the amount of renewable fuel blended into transportation fuel is encouraging, but does not account for demand destruction,” Ernst said in her comments. “I respectfully ask EPA to reallocate waived gallons and establish a clear procedure to ensure obligated parties demonstrate ‘disproportionate economic hardship’ before an exemption is granted.”

EPA had granted waivers to oil refiners: The waivers permitted refiners to forgo blending ethanol in gasoline, as the Renewable Fuel Standard requires them to do under the law. Ernst and the ethanol industry want Wheeler to require refineries to make up for the waived amounts under next year’s requirements.

Refiners and unions are pushing back against the suggestion that the ethanol gallons should be reallocated. The ethanol industry has already sued EPA over the refinery exemptions.