Govs. Walz, Noem Cry Foul Over Trump’s Ethanol Waivers

Source: By DAN NIEPOW, Twin Cities Business • Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019

In a letter, the governors asked Trump to find ways to lessen the impact of the waivers on farmers.

Govs. Walz, Noem Cry Foul Over Trump’s Ethanol Waivers

President Donald Trump’s ethanol policies continue to raise concerns in the ag-heavy Midwest.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem crossed party lines to air their concerns about the Trump administration’s ethanol waivers for some oil refineries.

Those waivers relieve small refiners from a requirement to blend ethanol and biodiesel into their fuels. To date, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued 85 ethanol waivers.

In a Sept. 4 letter to Trump, the governors say the waivers are hurting farmers and decreasing the demand for ethanol.

“Every waiver EPA approved affects our states,” Walz and Noem wrote. “We are hearing from farmers and renewable fuel producers that the waivers are the reason an increasing number of renewable fuel plants are closing or idling production.”

In their letter, Walz and Noem stopped short of asking the president to roll back the waivers in their entirety. Instead, they simply asked Trump to help mitigate the waivers’ impacts. That could include initiating a new program that improves consumer access to renewable fuels.

Noem, a Republican, is vice chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, while Walz is chair.

Last week, ethanol producer Corn Plus announced plans to shutter its Winnebago, Minn., plant. In a statement, the company cited a “destruction in ethanol demand” among reasons for the closure.

“U.S. ethanol inventories have been rising in the wake of foreign trade policies that have lowered U.S. ethanol exports, resulting in lower prices for ethanol,” Corn Plus officials said. “Additionally, the EPA’s issuance of special refinery exemption waivers has reduced the obligations outlined … for the amount of ethanol required when producing gasoline.”

Nationwide, 15 ethanol plants have closed in the wake of Trump’s ethanol waivers, the Des Moines Register reported late last month.