Perdue to host biofuels industry as controversies continue |

Perdue to host biofuels industry as controversies continue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will kick off the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference at noon Monday with a speech in the Agriculture Department’s Jefferson Auditorium.

Perdue will make his speech as conflicts between the industry and the Environmental Protection Agency continue.

The conference moves to the Mayflower Hotel on Tuesday, with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, among the featured speakers.

Today, at an EPA hearing in Michigan on its rulemaking to allow the sale of E15 fuel year around, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, and a series of biofuels leaders urged EPA to stick to its proposal to finish rulemaking by June 1, but they also criticized EPA for continuing to grant exemptions to the use of ethanol on the grounds that small refiners experience hardships.

“I commend the EPA for working hard to ensure that this E15 rulemaking can still be completed by June 1, when the summer E15 restrictions would otherwise go into effect. … President Trump made a commitment to Iowa last October, and Iowans expect it to be kept. … It is not the topic of focus today, but I would be remiss not to urge the EPA to change its course on granting small refinery exemptions to the RFS. The billions of gallons of exemptions granted over the last year have wreaked havoc on rural Iowa and on farmers. … Moreover, we have seen alarming press reports that lawsuits challenging these exemptions have unearthed facts that the (Department of Energy’s) analysis and recommendations to deny at least half of the exemption requests were ignored by the EPA. In fact, to date, not a single small refinery exemption has been denied during the entire Trump administration. As refiners enjoy record profits, Iowa farmers are hurting, ethanol plants have been shuttered, U.S. ethanol use has declined. … I realize that most of these exemptions were granted under the previous EPA administrator, so I ask Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler to chart a new course,” Reynolds testified.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in reaction to the latest small refinery exemption, “New leadership at the EPA was supposed to mean a return to the president’s pro-biofuel agenda. Instead, we’re getting a man-made recession in rural America, just to boost profits for a few oil giants. There’s no way to view continued abuse of EPA waivers except as a betrayal of rural manufacturing workers and farm communities. The EPA has now destroyed 2.6 billion gallons of biofuel demand, eliminating the market for a billion bushels of U.S. grain. Farm families are already facing natural disasters, on top of lost export markets. If the EPA doesn’t act now to restore the market promised to farmers, there is little hope for a swift rural recovery. EPA must start considering denials for the record 39 exemption requests that have already arrived for 2018. If 2018 looks anything like 2017 in terms of refinery handouts, the damage to the rural economy could be irreparable.”

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