Iowa’s governor, farmers urge Trump to let pro-ethanol court ruling stand

Source: By O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa • Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2020

Governor Kim Reynolds is again lobbying President Trump and his Administration on ethanol policy.

The EPA has signaled it will appeal a court ruling that sided with the ethanol industry and against some of the EPA’s waivers that let small oil refineries skip blending ethanol into gasoline.

“We don’t think they should appeal it,” Reynolds said. “We think they should let it stand and that should be something that they implement nationwide.”

Reynolds and other ethanol advocates have argued many of the hardship waivers for oil refineries were not warranted and a federal court agreed.

“We’re going to continue to reach out to the White House and say: ‘Let it go,’” Reynolds told Radio Iowa.

A federal court ruled in January that any oil refinery waivers granted after 2010 should be extensions. The policy would significantly limit the number of waivers the EPA could grant. The Trump Administration has until March 24 to make a decision on whether to appeal. Groups representing farmers and the biofuels industry have been voicing their objections to an appeal.

“Families in my state are looking at each other across the kitchen table this morning and wondering why the president through this appeal would try to prolong this fight between farmers, the EPA and oil interests,” said Dave Walton, who raises corn, soybeans and livestock on a farm near Wilton on eastern Iowa. “It’s kind of baffling to us.”

Walton, who is active in the Soybean Association at the state and national level, said the waivers impact the biodiesel industry, too, and it would be “a kick in the teeth” if the Trump Administration sides with the oil industry and appeals the ruling.

“This issue could destroy President Trump’s relationship with leaders and voters across the heartland,” Walton said.

National Corn Growers Association president Kevin Ross, who farms near Minden in southwest Iowa, said the potential appeal has injected more unneeded uncertainty into the marketplace.

“This is a united front from agriculture, our biofuels groups and other supporters of the decision,” he said during a conference call with Midwest reporters which Walton joined, too.

If the court ruling stands, the number of oil industry waivers from biofuel blending requirements would be drastically reduced in the future. The oil industry argues forcing small refineries to blend ethanol into gasoline puts a financial strain on small refineries. Farmers and biofuels groups say the waivers have depressed demand for ethanol and biodiesel.

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