U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a relentless fighter for Iowa’s biofuel community, pressed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler today at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on his awareness of the impact COVID-19 has had on ethanol producers, how he intends to handle the request for an RFS waiver, and his commitment to expand biofuel infrastructure by fixing ongoing labeling issues for higher blends of ethanol.
On COVID-19’s impact on renewable fuels:
Ernst first outlined the severe impact COVID-19 has had on renewable fuels producers across Iowa, saying in part: “As resilient and tenacious as it might be, Iowa’s renewable fuels industry is being hit hard…Close to 40% of ethanol production is offline. These are jobs lost and lives upended across Iowa and throughout Rural America. My farmers rely on these markets.”
On RFS waiver requests:
Ernst followed up with a question about attempts to blame renewable fuels for the recent economic downturn, saying in part: “The idea that the RFS is the cause of harm to the petroleum sector, when it is so clearly the COVID-19 pandemic, is frustrating to me and my farmers in Iowa. Time and again, we see these battles play out around this program.”
On biofuel infrastructure and E15 labeling issues:
Finally Ernst pressed the Administrator on his previous commitment to expand biofuel infrastructure, saying in part: “Administrator Wheeler, when you and I were in the White House debating those small refinery exemptions last fall, you made commitments to eliminate the E15 warning labels, and to allow E15 to be sold through existing infrastructure. And likewise, as a part of that broader agreement, Secretary Perdue was to provide funding for rolling out more infrastructure for higher blends of biofuel. Secretary Perdue put out final rules earlier this month –upholding his end of the bargain – but I have yet to see anything on infrastructure yet from EPA…will you finally eliminate the E15 warning labels as you committed to do eight months ago?”