U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), tireless advocates for Iowa’s renewable fuels industry, issued the following statements with regard to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule to establish the required renewable volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2020, and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021:
“Throughout this process, I, along with Senator Grassley and Governor Reynolds have made it crystal clear that Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers need certainty that EPA will follow the law. After shaking hands in the Oval Office this fall, EPA had an opportunity to restore the broken trust of farmers and to follow through on the president’s commitment, but it appears they’ve missed the mark…again. We were guaranteed a deal in September, and we were assured of that same deal in October, yet EPA rolled out, and has now finalized, a different proposal. It’s no wonder trust has been lost,” said Senator Ernst.
“While I’m hopeful we get to the 15 billion or more gallons of ethanol that we’ve been promised, I clearly understand the hesitation from Iowans to trust the word of EPA to actually follow through on that commitment. I believe President Trump wants to do right for the biofuels community – we’ve seen that with E15 year-round and most recently the biodiesel tax incentive. But Administrator Wheeler should know: this is not the end. I will continue to fight tirelessly to make sure that my fellow Iowans have a seat at the table when it comes to renewable fuels. We will keep holding EPA’s feet to the fire to ensure they truly uphold the RFS, the law, as intended and fully implement the other critical aspects of this rule,” said Ernst.
“Once again, EPA is playing games and not helping President Trump with farmers. An agreement was reached on September 12 in an Oval Office meeting between several Midwest leaders, President Trump and other members of his Administration. This does not reflect what we agreed to in that meeting. Simply requiring that the three-year rolling average be based on hard data and actual waived gallons rather than Department of Energy recommendations and EPA discretion would solve this problem and ensure the renewable volume obligations are met. Administrator Wheeler has put the president in a bad situation by not following the law as intended by Congress and as the president has promised to uphold,” said Senator Grassley.
“No matter what EPA says about the impact of its waivers to oil companies making billions in profits, farmers and biofuels producers know and feel the negative impact of the agency’s actions. I will hold EPA’s feet to the fire to make certain they abide by the Department of Energy’s recommendations and ensure integrity in the RFS. Whether that happens is up to Administrator Wheeler and the president’s support among farmers is in his hands,” said Grassley. “The magic words from the Oval Office meeting were three-year rolling average based on hard data and actual waived gallons. Abiding by this would have solved all the problem’s EPA has created.”
Senator Ernst is the lead sponsor of S.1840, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act of 2019. The bipartisan legislation would ensure EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) it sets each November.
Senator Ernst worked closely with the Trump Administration, specifically EPA, to remove the outdated restriction on the sale of E15 year-round. In May of this year, the EPA finalized a new rule lifting the ban, and the Senator joined President Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa to celebrate the big win for Iowa farmers and producers.
The Senator has urged EPA to stop issuing so-called “hardship” waivers exempting obligated parties, to provide topline information about the waivers already issued, to disclose whether or not the agency redistributed the waived volume obligations among the non-exempted obligated parties, and to outline the agency’s plan to make the waiver process more transparent.
For five years in a row, Growth Energy, who is a leading biofuels trade association in the country, have presented Senator Ernst with the “Fueling Growth Award,” for her work to get E15 sold year-round and her constant efforts to advance, support, and defend renewable fuels and the RFS as a whole.