Off-base claim on RFS

Source: By Monte Shaw, Storm Lake Times • Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2022

Art Cullen’s recent editorial criticizing Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst for pushing back on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule proposed by the Biden EPA was off-base, off-tone, and quite frankly, off-its-rocker.

It is embarrassingly inaccurate for Cullen to state that Grassley and Ernst “were pretty quiet” when the Trump Administration undercut the RFS. As anyone knows who paid attention, and as anyone who wants to opine on the topic should know, Grassley and Ernst spent the four years of the Trump Administration in nearly constant battle with him and his EPA to protect the RFS and Iowa farmers. They defeated numerous schemes by Sen. Ted Cruz and the Trump EPA to destroy the RFS.

And when Trump finally caved to Big Oil and granted the exemptions to the RFS that Cullen refers to, our senators were anything but silent. They pounded and pounded, sometimes literally on Trump’s desk, until he agreed to account for those exemptions going forward. Life under the Trump EPA was not good for biofuels, but it would have been infinitely worse if not for the constant work by Grassley and Ernst to push back on big oil schemes.

Now, true to form, Grassley and Ernst are doing the same thing when the Biden EPA has proposed a bad RFS rule. Cullen smears their actions as partisan. 

Really? The entire Iowa delegation expressed disappointment in certain parts of the recently proposed RFS rule. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat, stated: “the proposed decision to retroactively lower the 2020 [RFS] target does not reflect a sufficient commitment to renewable fuels and family farmers.” While some Republican elected officials might have used stronger language, the point was the same.

It’s not surprising the Iowa federal delegation stood united in pushing for improvements to the proposed rule. After all, they are just representing their constituents. The Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Biodiesel Board, and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association all expressed concerns with portions of the proposed rule – just as they had when the Trump EPA undercut the RFS.

The Biden EPA’s proposal included some good, some bad, and some ugly. It is misleading to use quotes from groups regarding the good portions of the proposed rule to try to undercut Grassley and Ernst’s comments on the bad and ugly portions of the proposed rule.

Here are the facts. Over four years, the Trump EPA destroyed demand for about 4.5 billion gallons of biofuels through the use of unjustified refinery exemptions. The Biden EPA’s proposed rule would destroy demand for about 3.3 billion gallons. Ironically, in view of Cullen’s charges, part of the proposed demand destruction would be achieved by illegally (we believe) reopening and lowering the final 2020 RFS levels put in place by the Trump EPA.

But as this is still just a proposed rule, there is a chance to see it improved. That is why we are thankful that the entire Iowa delegation is stepping up and speaking out. They should be applauded, not mocked.

There is no nice way to say this. Cullen’s editorial was factually incorrect, used cherry-picked half-truths to push a false narrative, and should be retracted. Quite frankly Mr. Cullen, you owe Iowa’s senators an apology.

Monte ShawExecutive Director, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association