State of Renewable Fuels Addressed in Iowa Summit

Feb 1, 2019  | 3 min  | Ep4424

The shutdown may have ended in time for federal approval of year round E15. Iowa is the nation’s leader in ethanol production and provided the backdrop for an industry snapshot.

2018 provided challenges for renewable fuels. Many industry advocates believe it stemmed from then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt on a number of fronts.

Monte Shaw, Executive Director, Iowa Renewable Fuels: “It was the uncertainty, the constant work, the level of work, the frustrations. Even though we won every battle we knew about, we didn’t know about the Small Refinery Exemption until after they were done, so we couldn’t fight it and they ripped the heart out of a program I’d spent 10 years, along with all the people in this room building and defending. It was very, very frustrating at that point and time.”

The Small Refinery Exemptions or SRE’s were on the minds of many speakers at the 2019 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in suburban Des Moines, including the Hawkeye State Governor who told the assembled crowd she’s been in constant contact with the Trump Administration on the issue.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, R – Iowa: “When I talk to Acting Administrator Wheeler they are working towards this on this. Criteria for exemptions they have to be reasonable, they have to be transparent, and any exemptions must be reallocated to the remaining obligated parties.”

Donnell Rehagen, CEO, National Biodiesel Board: “We’ve all referred to them being handed out like Halloween candy and I think what we’ll see moving forward, I don’t think we’ll see any less applications for those, just hopeful there will be a little more scrutiny to the appropriateness of those before those are actually granted.”

What happened in 2018 will have some carryover into this year in many forms and write new history for the industry.

Monte Shaw, Executive Director, Iowa Renewable Fuels: “We’re going to have several court cases on the old Small Renewable Fuel Exemption come due which will impact hundreds of millions of gallons for better or worse. We’re going to have a reset rule. We could have an E15 year-round rule, we could open trade up with China, maybe we won’t all of these things are on the plate for 2019. It could turn out to be a great year we’re popping champagne corks at the end of the year or we could be in the dumps.”

Resolving the trade war with China was also a big discussion point this week as negotiations are vital to many aspects of agriculture in 2019.

Kevin Studer, Federal Policy Advisor, Iowa Corn: “I can tell you from an Iowa Corn perspective, we can’t wait. We have to get this done. It is important to my growers it is important to this state as Eric said. As an agriculture state, there is no waiting, our farmers need it.”

Mike Dwyer, Chief Economist, U.S. Grains Council: “But I would not be surprised if we can put this trade war to bed this year, you could see 300 million plus gallons going to China in ‘19 and a billion gallons is not beyond the realm of possibility in 2020 which is when their mandate kicks in full force in all over China.”  

Industry leaders also cited President Trump’ s commitment to E15 as a big deal for rural America, but now the final language needs federal approval.

Gov. Kim Reynolds: “It was a good win, but If we can’t implement it, it doesn’t happen.” 

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