MFU echoes Govs. Walz & Noem’s call for additional action to strengthen homegrown biofuels

Source: By Brita Moore, Minnesota Farmers Union • Posted: Monday, October 14, 2019

St. PAUL – Minnesota’s farmers and biofuels industry have been hit hard by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) small refinery exemptions (SREs), which allowed many oil refineries to skirt the required ethanol blending levels under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). This caused a loss of more than 4.3 billon gallons of demand for this homegrown renewable fuel.

Last week, President Trump took a step to try to mitigate this lost demand, directing EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address barriers to the use of E15 and expand biofuels infrastructure, as well as creating a supplemental rule to address future SREs.

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), a grassroots general farm organization, has long supported the use of biofuels. The organization is grateful for the leadership of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, the chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, the vice chair, on this issue. These two governors sent a letter to the president yesterdaythanking him for taking this step, as well as recommending four steps the executive branch can take to expand renewable energy production. This includes extending the Reid Vapor Pressure waiver to higher ethanol blends such as E30, a major priority of Farmers Union.

“I thank Gov. Walz and Gov. Noem for stepping up as leaders on the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition and calling for further action to expand the biofuels market,” MFU President Gary Wertish said. “Farmers rely on the biofuels industry as a market through which they can get a good price for their labor. The SREs have caused significant economic harm in Minnesota, even causing an ethanol plant in Winnebago to close.

“Farmers Union is encouraged that the Trump administration is working to address the damage caused by SREs, and we will continue working to make sure they follow through on their promises. We support the steps laid out by Gov. Walz and Gov. Noem and urge the administration to act on them.”