Some farm groups and farm-state lawmakers expressed anger at the Trump administration Thursday over final ethanol rules that they said failed to uphold the president's promises to the industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency released its final renewable fuel standard but it did not include language that President Donald Trump agreed to in meetings with industry officials, governors and congressional representatives during September and October.
"Apparently President Trump doesn't care about his promise to Iowa's farmers," said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Jim Greif. "He had the opportunity to tell his EPA to stick to the deal that was made on Oct. 4."
The final agreement does not include language Trump agreed to that the EPA will add ethanol gallons back into the nation's gasoline supply based on the exemptions granted in the past three years. Instead the final rule says EPA will base oil refinery exemptions on Energy Department recommendations.
The ethanol industry and corn farmers who raise the grain that's made into ethanol said the agreed upon language would have created market certainty by assuring the industry that it would meet the 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol for 2020 mandated by federal renewable fuel standard law.
"I'd like to say I can trust EPA will follow through with their rule, but the agency continues to side with the oil industry," said David Bruntz, a Friend, Nebraska, farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.
Roughly 40% of U.S. corn is used to produce ethanol so fewer ethanol gallons means a reduced market for corn.
Ethanol industry officials said at least 20 U.S. ethanol plants have closed at least temporarily since September 2018 due in part to the reduction of ethanol use in the nation's fuel supply because of EPA policy.
The EPA said it has modified its refinery exemptions policy to ensure mandatory biofuels volumes are met and contends that the Trump administration has fulfilled its key promise to farmers and the industry.
Other critics hesitated to point the finger directly at Trump but indicated deep distrust that the EPA would uphold the law.
“While the final rule is still an improvement over the previous one, I am, and I know Nebraskans are, wary that the EPA will follow the law and meet these obligations like they say they will," Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer said in a news release.
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