The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency were at the center of another rural American sector –biofuels- as four governors and 38 senators sounded the alarm on rumors the EPA would cut the biofuel mandate.

But at week’s end, administrator Scott Pruitt responded with a vow to support the spirit and letter of the law.

Josh Buettner reports

This week reports surfaced that President Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to stand down on a proposed rollback of Renewable Fuel Standard targets for 2017 and 2018. 

The move came as several Midwest politicians, led by Iowa’s state and federal leaders, pushed back at the prospect of weakening the federal program which mandates a percentage of renewable fuels be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. 

Governor Kim Reynolds/R – Iowa: “Our farmers, over and over, have demonstrated that you can, in fact, feed and fuel the world.”

 

At over 4 billion gallons per year, the Hawkeye State accounts for nearly 30 percent of all domestic corn-based ethanol. 

Governor Kim Reynolds/R – Iowa: “The renewable fuel standard plays a major role in sustaining our ability to continue as an agriculture leader by giving farmers another market for their commodities.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and industry advocates claimed the RFS was in a precarious position under EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt – who’s been tied to fossil fuel interests.  Reynolds spoke with both Pruitt and the president by phone mid-week to reaffirm Trump’s campaign commitment to stick by the thousands of jobs in rural America which rely on biofuel production. 

President Donald Trump/R – New York: “The RFS, which is Renewable Fuel Standard, is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States.  I will do all that is in my power as president to achieve that goal.”

Senator Joni Ernst/R – Iowa: “The administrator has told us in private…He needed a little motivation.  Let’s put it like that…So we feel good about where we are, however, I have reminded people we always need to be vigilant.  It doesn’t matter what administration or where we’re at.  There’s always going to be naysayers when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard out there.”

While commending Iowa’s senators for standing up for the RFS, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association head Monte Shaw remained skeptical of EPA, citing RFS opponents’ claims that the cost of compliance has driven up prices at the pump.  Two EPA proposals would have both cut requirements for biodiesel, an ancillary market for soybeans, and also would have allowed biofuel exports to count toward blend levels in the domestic program.

Senator Charles Grassley/R – Iowa: “I hope we are successful, in the end, of turning this very detrimental actions on the part of the EPA, both from the standpoint of agriculture, the environment, and good-paying jobs in rural America, but also a departure from the president keeping his campaign promise, which I know the president wants to keep.”

To protect jobs in his home state, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley reportedly considered enlisting other lawmakers to help block Trump’s nominees to key posts at EPA.  Democrats oppose any presidential nomination to the agency, leaving a razor-thin path to approval with the current GOP majority.

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.