A dozen lawmakers called on Wednesday for a review of the explosion in ethanol waivers awarded by the EPA in the past two years. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the lawmakers said many of the small-volume refineries that applied for waivers did not need them.
At the same time that POET, the largest U.S. ethanol maker, said it was forced to shut down an Indiana plant due to EPA “mismanagement” of the ethanol mandate, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said that “farmers feel the government isn’t keeping its word” on biofuels.
President Trump, who campaigned for election as a friend of corn ethanol, ought to stop the EPA from issuing "hardship" waivers that free refineries from complying with the so-called ethanol mandate, said ethanol and farm groups. The EPA approved 31 waivers for small-volume refineries on Friday without comment.
The Trump administration proposed a Renewable Fuel Standard of 20.04 billion gallons for 2020, meaning no change in corn ethanol's share of the gasoline market for cars and light trucks, while the share of that market going to cleaner-burning cellulosic ethanol, made from grass and woody plants, will increase by 120 million gallons. Farm groups and biofuel makers, who opened the summer with a celebration that higher-blend E15 was approved for year-round sale, said the EPA bowed to Big Oil.
The EPA intends to approve the year-round sale of E15 in time for the summer driving season, said administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday. In proposing an end to the ban on summertime sales, the EPA set a 45-day comment period on its proposal.
In late June, days before it proposed a target of 15 billion gallons for U.S. consumption of corn ethanol, the EPA was ready to force refiners to blend a larger volume of biofuels into the gasoline and diesel fuel supply, reported Reuters on Wednesday.
President Trump confirmed in public what was being whispered in private — that he would not allow ethanol exports to count toward meeting U.S. biofuel targets — in greeting Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst at a bill-signing ceremony on Wednesday.
Corn state senators are expected to press President Trump today to support the year-round sale of E15 gasoline at a White House meeting, while oil state senators will be seeking a cap on the price of RINs. Neither side knows what to expect.
Just as they did at committee level, House Democrats will show their opposition to the Republican-written farm bill by refusing to offer amendments during floor debate, said Rep. Collin Peterson on Wednesday.
President Trump outlined an initiative to help both the ethanol and petroleum industries on Thursday that includes the year-round sale of E15, a gasoline blend richer in corn ethanol than the traditional 10 percent blend.