Trump administration biofuels fix again falls short for family farmers
Oct. 16, 2019
Family farmers and biofuels producers in Minnesota have struggled financially as a result of the Trump administration’s decision to continuously hand out small refinery exemptions (SREs) to oil refiners, exempting them from the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
This means these refiners have skimped on blending homegrown biofuels on the claims of “hardship,” despite these being some of the most profitable companies in the world. This severely damaged the market for corn ethanol, eliminating about four billion gallons of demand for biofuels.
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), a grassroots family farm organization that has long supported biofuels for the market it provides farmers, was encouraged earlier this month when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a plan to offset the lost biofuels demand from these SREs. The plan included initiating a rulemaking process to remove barriers to selling E15 and seeking comment on actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020.
More details on the plan were released on Oct. 15 that are incredibly disappointing to MFU. EPA proposed basing the relief provided on values recommended by the Department of Energy (DoE), rather than the actual three-year average of exempted gallons. This falls well short of making up for the harm that the SREs have caused family farmers and rural communities.
“This president who campaigned heavily on promises to support biofuels has undermined that promise over and over again,” Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish said. “Press conferences and vague plans don’t benefit family farmers. The administration claimed for months they were hard at work on a plan to fix this issue, but the results fell way short of the rhetoric and what farmers need.
“Ultimately, President Trump needs to be held accountable for allowing these SREs to continue for so long. The biofuels market has long been a reliable option for family farmers to get a fair price for their products, as well as a strong part of our country’s energy mix and a way to lower fuel costs for consumers. This administration has all but destroyed that market.”
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org).