South Dakota Farmers Union Says RFS “Fixes” Lack Vision and Progress

Source: By Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director • Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Huron, S.D. – Following yet another disappointing announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on their management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke said it’s time to recognize the RFS Is broken.

 “The “big beautiful deal” EPA announced last week raised more questions than it answered, and now a week later we have the answers– it isn’t big and it isn’t beautiful. Leaving our future in the hands of EPA is sinking us further into a hole,” said Sombke, who is also a fourth-generation South Dakota farmer.
“We simply cannot allow agriculture and ethanol to be defined by the RFS– we can do so much more. In addition to destroying demand through the waivers from RFS obligations, EPA is attempting to make sure the industry never grows beyond current levels.” Sombke said along with not fully re-allocating volumes waived in this proposal, previously, in the E15 rvp rule, EPA also capped blends at the 15% level, making it illegal to blend at 20 or 30%, which is where the highest value is in terms of octane and emission reductions.
Sombke referenced the fact Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth made this very point in a recent article calling on the environmental and health communities to take another look at E30.  But the cap on E15 and restrictions of the RFS have severely limited the industry’s ability to provide those benefits. By making the national debate all about the RFS, Sombke said, it creates constant uncertainty and divisiveness, dragging ethanol and corn through the mud in the process.
In an editorial last week in the Des Moines Register Sombke proposed an easy fix by using the pending Safe Affordable Fuel Economy (SAFE) rule as a pathway to higher octane and to remove the regulatory barriers keeping ethanol from providing the lowest cost, lowest carbon and cleanest octane.
“The Trump Administration has been sitting on the Safe Affordable Fuel Economy (SAFE) Rule for months and with the stroke of a pen could order EPA to lift the caps on volume, and increase octane levels while enforcing toxics controls. That would be a direct pathway to optional higher ethanol blends, more corn grind, increased efficiency with reduced emissions, and an end to some of this constant fighting.”
“Of course, we want the RFS to work, said Sombke, but even if fully enforced, it caps corn ethanol. The fixes we propose would make the RFS a true floor instead of the ceiling it has become.”