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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE August 22, 2019

Top Stories

SRE Investigations, Litigation

Iowa lawmaker asks EPA watchdog to probe refinery waivers

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne is calling on EPA’s inspector general to investigate how the agency waives biofuel blending requirements for refineries, following a stream of such exemptions that’s sparked criticism from farm groups. The Democrat said the exemptions for small refineries are dampening demand for ethanol and hurting companies that sell it, including the Iowa-based company Poet LLC, which announced yesterday it will idle a plant in Indiana due to EPA’s actions. [ read more … ]

Iowa Democrats call for probe of EPA biofuel waivers

By JAMES Q. LYNCH, Journal Des Moines Bureau  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Democratic U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack are calling for a review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of waivers that exempt small oil refineries from complying with the nation’s biofuel law. Finkenauer and Loebsack want the Government Accountability Office to investigate how the waiver program is being applied under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which generally requires refineries to blend renewable sources — including corn-based ethanol — into the nation’s fuel supply or to buy credits instead.
[ read more … ]

Calls to Investigate EPA

By Chris Clayton, Progressive Farmer  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Iowa’s ethanol industry and officials are pushing back on EPA’s small-refinery waivers with demands for multiple federal investigations and demanding EPA follow court rulings. Two months ago, Mike Jerke was standing next to President Donald Trump at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy as the president championed year-round E15. On Wednesday, Jerke, CEO of the 130-million-gallon ethanol plant, was standing next to a congresswoman calling for a federal investigation into EPA’s 31 new small-refinery waivers. Trump had promised to preserve and protect the Renewable Fuels Standard, Jerke said. [ read more … ]

Biofuel Lobby Sues EPA Over Renewable Fuel Standard Exemptions

By Michael McGrady, Inside Sources  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is facing a legal challenge from a coalition of biofuel and agriculture industry groups regarding the agency’s proposal for reduced renewable fuel volumes. According to a press release from the coalition, the organizations filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to lift a stay on a 2018 legal challenge asking the judicial systems to protect the biofuel industry from EPA regulatory abuse. [ read more … ]

Iowa lawmaker asks EPA watchdog to probe refinery waivers

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne is calling on EPA’s inspector general to investigate how the agency waives biofuel blending requirements for refineries, following a stream of such exemptions that’s sparked criticism from farm groups. The Democrat said the exemptions for small refineries are dampening demand for ethanol and hurting companies that sell it, including the Iowa-based company Poet LLC, which announced yesterday it will idle a plant in Indiana due to EPA’s actions. [ read more … ]

SREs Reaction

Farm Tensions Escalate as USDA Staffer Threatened in Midwest

By Mario Parker, Bloomberg  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

In a sign of rising tensions with the farm community, the Trump administration withdrew staff from a privately run tour of Midwestern corn and soybean fields after a government employee received a threat.
While the threat was made by someone not involved in the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, the U.S. Department of Agriculture opted to pull all its staff as a precaution, Hubert Hamer, administrator of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said by email Wednesday. NASS crops chief Lance Honig was scheduled to address groups on the tour, which is comprised of farmers, reporters and agribusiness interests scouting crop progress. [ read more … ]

Farmer’s threat prompts USDA to pull staff from crop tour

By P.J. Huffstutter, Tom Polansek, Reuters  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday it had pulled all staff from an annual crop tour after an employee was threatened, and three sources said the threat came over the phone from an angry farmer. Farmers have complained this month that a government crop report did not reflect damage from historic flooding this spring. They are also frustrated over unsold crops due to the trade war with China, falling farm income and tighter credit conditions. [ read more … ]

U.S. farmers, lawmakers dial up pressure on Trump over biofuel policy

By Humeyra Pamuk and Jarrett Renshaw, Reuters  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

The agriculture and biofuel industries and their allies in the U.S. Congress ramped up pressure on the Trump administration on Wednesday over the relief he has given oil refiners from rules requiring use of biofuels. Long-suffering American farmers, a constituency President Donald Trump is counting on in his campaign for re-election in 2020, have seen prices for crops hit hard by his trade war with China. This month, farmers also complained that a government crop report did not reflect damage from historic flooding this spring.
[ read more … ]

Reynolds, Naig Call on Wheeler to Reallocate Waived Ethanol Gallons

By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig asked EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reallocate ethanol gallons lost to small-refinery waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard and to increase transparency in the program, in a letter sent to Wheeler on Wednesday. As President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly considers its options in response to a rural backlash to Trump ordering the approval of 31 new waivers for 2018, POET announced this week it is idling production at a 92-million-gallon ethanol plant in Indiana and has cut production at half of its 28 plants. [ read more … ]

Ernst: EPA policy on ethanol leading to concern Midwest way of life “under attack”

By CBS2/FOX28  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

“There is a big concern out there that our Renewable Fuel Standard, our way of life here in the Midwest, is under attack. Now we’d like to provide these products to consumers, but if we have all of these small refineries that are receiving exemptions, they don’t have to produce.” Sen. Ernst also told the workers that former Iowa Governor and current Ambassador to China Terry Branstad met with President Trump Monday. According to Ernst, Ambassador Branstad tried to explain to the President the importance of ethanol production to Iowa, its farmers and the greater economy they support. [ read more … ]

Largest Ethanol Maker Closes Indiana Plant, Blames EPA Waivers

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

At the same time the largest U.S. ethanol maker, POET, said it was forced to shut down an Indiana plant due to EPA “mismanagement” of the ethanol mandate, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said on Tuesday “farmers feel the government isn’t keeping its word” on biofuels. But chairman Chuck Grassley warned there may not be enough support in Congress to overrule the EPA, which has exempted 31 refineries from complying with the mandate.
[ read more … ]

RFA Statement on EPA and Demand Destruction from Refinery Exemptions

By Renewable Fuels Association  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

“To suggest that there is ‘zero evidence’ of ethanol and corn demand destruction from small refinery waivers is as insulting as it is absurd. On the same day that EPA made this asinine assertion, two more ethanol plants announced they are idling production. At least 15 ethanol plants have now shut down or idled since EPA began its refiner bailout bonanza last year, and more than 2,500 jobs have already been affected. [ read more … ]

Primary 2020

Oil donors shy on Trump’s 2020 campaign, for now

By James Osborne, Houston Chronicle  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

Through the first six months of this year, Trump’s campaign fund had drawn less than $89,000 from the oil and gas industry, only about $600 more than the Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, according to analysis of donations exceeding $200 from individuals and political action committees compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington research organization that tracks money in politics. By contrast, Senators Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who is facing a tough reelection fight in 2020, raised more than $230,000 from the industry while Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is facing a decidedly less competitive race, drew more than $195,000. While it’s still early in the campaign season — with no clear Democratic challenger in place — lobbyists in the oil industry say for all the pros of another four years of Trump, the president’s efforts to upset trade policies that drive economic and energy activity worldwide have given some executives pause. [ read more … ]

Inslee’s plan would boost biofuels to hurt oil industry

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

The final climate plan from Inslee’s presidential campaign aims to help farmers recover from the combined effects of rising temperatures and historic underinvestment in rural infrastructure, as well as “an erratic Trump administration that’s harder to predict than the weather.” Its key planks include expanding biofuels, federal financing of rural infrastructure, and paying farmers to improve their soil and sequester carbon. [ read more … ]

CarRule

Mercedes-Benz to join Calif. in fuel economy deal: reports

By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted August 22, 2019

In a rebuke to President Trump, Mercedes-Benz will join a deal with California to improve the fuel economy of its cars and trucks, according to multiple reports. Four automakers — Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG and BMW of North America — inked the deal last month with California after extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations. [ read more … ]

 

Note: News clips provided do not necessarily reflect the views of coalition or its member governors.