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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE December 16, 2019

Top Stories

U.N. Climate Talks End With Few Commitments and a ‘Lost’ Opportunity

By Somini Sengupta, New York Times  •    •  Posted December 16, 2019

In what was widely denounced as one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations, United Nations talks ended early Sunday morning with the United States and other big polluters blocking even a nonbinding measure that would have encouraged countries to adopt more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year. Because the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, it was the last chance, at least for some time, for American delegates to sit at the negotiating table at the annual talks — and perhaps a turning point in global climate negotiations, given the influence that Washington has long wielded, for better or worse, in the discussions. The Trump administration used the meeting to push back on a range of proposals, including a mechanism to compensate developing countries for losses that were the result of more intense storms, droughts, rising seas and other effects of global warming. [ read more … ]

How ethanol plant shutdowns deepen pain for U.S. corn farmers

By Mark Weinraub and Stephanie Kelly, Reuters  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

When the U.S. ethanol industry was booming, Indiana farmer Paul Hodgen made good money selling about a quarter of his crop to a local facility that produced the corn-based fuel.Now that plant has stopped churning out ethanol and has instead converted to a grain elevator for storage, Hodgen still sells his corn there, but for a fraction of the price. “We are suffering for demand,” said Hodgen, a 40-year-old father of four.
[ read more … ]


Factbox: How China Tariffs on U.S. Commodities, Energy Stand After ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal

By Chen Aizhu, Muyu Xu, Dominique Patton, Tom Daly, Shivani Singh and Hallie Gu, Reuters  •    •  Posted December 16, 2019

China and the United States have agreed terms of a “phase one” trade deal under which Washington reduced some tariffs and Beijing canceled retaliatory duties that were previously scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15. Before Sunday’s deal, U.S. corn, sorghum, wheat, undenatured ethanol, and refined copper cathodes had faced an additional tariff of 10% an imports into China. Propane, cotton, aluminum scrap, copper scrap and rare earth magnets were all set for an additional 5% duty. [ read more … ]

Winners and losers in Trump’s ‘phase one’ China trade deal

By Heather Long, Washington Post  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

China has committed to buying a record amount of U.S. agricultural products next year, surpassing the prior record of about $26 billion in 2012. U.S. officials say China has agreed to buy $32 billion of agricultural products, though Trump says China will probably “hit $50 billion.” The Chinese refuse to utter that exact figure, but they have agreed to bump up purchases, and they know Trump wants headlines saying it’s the “most ever” even if it’s not quite $50 billion. This will be a much-needed injection of cash for farmers, who have been pounded by China’s retaliatory tariffs despite a program Trump set up to compensate them for losses. Farm bankruptcies are up 24 percent from last year and farm debt is projected to reach a record high, according to the U.S. Farm Bureau. But farmers who voted for Trump before are likely to return to him again after this deal. [ read more … ]

U.S.-China trade deal cuts tariffs for Beijing promise of big farm purchases

By Stella Qiu, Martin Pollard, David Lawder, Karl Plume, Mark Weinraub, Julie Ingwersen and Jeff Mason, Reuters  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

The United States and China cooled their trade war on Friday, announcing a “Phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods. Beijing has agreed to import at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years on top of the amount it purchased in 2017, the top U.S. trade negotiator said here Friday. If the purchases are made, they would represent a huge jump in U.S. exports to China. China bought $130 billion in U.S. goods in 2017, before the trade war began, and $56 billion in services, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data show. [ read more … ]

China, US Announce Trade Deal

By Katie Dehlinger, Farm Business Editor, Progressive Farmer  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

China and the U.S. reached a preliminary agreement on the first phase of a trade deal that includes increased purchases of U.S. agricultural products, although the amount wasn’t specified. The deal, which still needs to go through a legal review before it’s signed into place, prevents a new tranche of tariffs from going into effect on Sunday. The 25% tariffs on approximately $250 billion of Chinese imports will remain, while a 15% tariff on $120 billion of imports will be cut in half, to 7.5%. Chinese officials said the U.S. would remove tariffs in stages, but offered no further details. [ read more … ]

Green groups come out against NAFTA 2.0

By Geof Koss, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

Major environmental groups today announced their opposition to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), decrying its lack of action on climate change and potential to worsen emissions. Green groups have been largely silent since the deal was announced earlier this week but had signaled earlier that the expected lack of specific provisions to address climate change would call for USMCA’s defeat. Today advocates highlighted addressing climate change and additional recommendations they had previously made to Democrats that went unheeded. [ read more … ]


Why Trump is winning on trade in Iowa

By SABRINA RODRIGUEZ, Politico  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

The closest thing to a shout-out to trade policy came from Sen. Bernie Sanders — the sixth and final candidate to speak — who asserted he would “stand up for workers abroad” and “stand up for workers in the United States of America.” It’s par for the course in the Democratic primary. If the presidential contenders say anything at all about trade policy, it’s typically criticism of Trump’s go-it-alone approach in fighting China, a passing acknowledgment that farmers are hurting from the president’s approach or a caution that the replacement deal for NAFTA needs to be strongly enforceable. They aren’t even tackling the issue in their broader messaging. Out of the dozens of television ads Democrats have taken out in Iowa, not a single one has focused on trade. [ read more … ]

Proposed RVO and Supplemental Rule

Polls Show 49 Percent of Ohio Voters Think President Should Do More

By Ohio corn & Wheat  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

A recent poll found a sizable majority of Ohio voters believe President Trump should do more to support farmers with overall survey responses underscoring Ohio voters’ strong support for the Renewable Fuels Standard and the use of renewable fuels. Sixty-six percent of Ohio voters reported a favorable opinion of biofuels, such as ethanol produced from corn. After learning about the Trump Administration record on small refiner exemptions, 53 percent of voters somewhat or strongly opposed the actions on the RFS. Only 29 percent of voters somewhat or strongly supported the Administration’s recent actions on the RFS. In less than three years, the Trump Administration has given out 85 waivers to small refineries– a stark contrast from the total of 10 waivers granted over the course of the eight years prior. These 85 exemptions totaled 4 billion gallons of biofuels not blended in petroleum, which has significantly hurt Ohio farmers. [ read more … ]


Fuel Retailers and Drivers Raise Thousands for Local Cancer Center

By Amber Rucker, Nebraska Ethanol Board  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

While biofuels and cancer research may seem like an unlikely pairing, studies shows that using more biofuels leads to less air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, up to 70 percent of ground-level ozone-forming pollutants come from mobile-source emissions. Chemicals in gasoline are the same carcinogens found in tobacco, which are linked to cancer. Higher blends of biofuels dilute the toxicity and help reduce cancer-causing aromatics released from tailpipe emissions. Ethanol-blended fuels also reduce greenhouse gases by 42 percent. [ read more … ]


Obama says Paris climate deal is still the way forward

By Associated Press  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

Former U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the Paris Agreement on climate change may fall short of expectations but is still the way forward to achieve progress and encourage businesses to invest in clean energy. Nearly 200 nations pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and help poor countries cope with the worst effects of an already warming planet under the accord signed in 2016 that was a cornerstone of Obama’s environmental legacy. [ read more … ]

Flooded farmers face growing dilemma in warming world

By Tammy Webber and Josh Funk, Associated Press  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

Frogs, carp and bugs thrived all summer in murky floodwaters where Gene Walter should have planted corn and soybeans. Last year’s ruined crop spilled from metal storage bins that burst nine months ago when the Missouri River surged through two levees near his southwest Iowa farm. Like many in the water-weary Midwest, Walter doesn’t know whether climate change was responsible for the second major flood in nine years. Or the increasingly frequent torrential rains that dump more water in an hour than he used to see in days. [ read more … ]


Calif. weighs contentious clean truck rule

By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted December 15, 2019

California has proposed the nation’s first-ever regulation to help boost sales of zero-emissions trucks, but it faces a tough road ahead, with opposition coming from both environmentalists and industry. That dynamic was on full display yesterday at a California Air Resources Board meeting in Sacramento, where 104 people signed up to testify on the proposed rule. The testimony lasted more than two hours, and the vast majority of speakers raised concerns about the proposal. Environmentalists said it didn’t go far enough. Industry officials said it went too far in some cases and imposed burdensome new reporting requirements. [ read more … ]


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