Even as larger-scale producers of cellulosic ethanol shutter their plants, a handful of small-volume producers are staying the course. One of them, northwestern Iowa’s Quad County Corn Processors, has been using its distinctive distilling method to make cellulosic ethanol since 2014.
Five years ago, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands joined Gov. Terry Branstad at a biofuels plant in northwestern Iowa to inaugurate commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol. This week, the owner of that facility announced it would no longer produce the so-called “second-generation” renewable fuel at the plant.
The EPA justified its exemption of 31 refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard in a two-page memorandum that it did not reveal for weeks, said a coalition of four biofuel groups and two farm groups in a challenge filed in a U.S. appeals court. The petition was filed at the same time biofuel backers are accusing the EPA of a “bait and switch” on promises to increase ethanol consumption.
The Trump administration is siding with Big Oil despite announcing a plan to increase ethanol consumption, farm state senators told the No. 2 USDA official on Thursday. “That’s a president that has chosen oil companies over family farmers,” said one of the critics, Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The Trump administration “has yet ... to produce a concrete plan to meet the annual 15 billion-gallon requirement” for mixing corn ethanol into the U.S. gasoline supply, said House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson on Wednesday.
The Trump administration responded to months of Farm Belt complaints that it was undermining homegrown biofuels by vowing to increase the ethanol mandate, beginning next year, above the 15-billion-gallon-a-year target that is set by law. Officials did not specify a new figure for corn ethanol usage nor did its package include the oil industry's goal of a cap on the price of credits that refiners must buy if they do not mix enough ethanol into gasoline.
As recently as Wednesday, President Trump lauded farmers as “great patriots” for their forbearance in the face of ag exports lost due to the Sino-U.S. trade war. A handful of corn and soybean farmers active in biofuels policy said on Thursday that there is less patience in farm country for the administration’s handling of the ethanol mandate.
Roughly ten days ago, Midwestern senators left a meeting with President Trump believing they had an agreement to solidify corn ethanol’s share of the gasoline market. Yet Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday he had no idea why the administration has not announced the plan, arguing “it ought …
President Trump will meet with oil state senators, possibly this afternoon, as the White House referees a long-running dispute over ethanol’s share of the U.S. fuel supply.
President Trump will soon announce a plan to boost demand for biofuels. At least that’s what Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told participants in a policy forum at the Illinois Farm Progress Show on Wednesday. But no one — including Trump or Perdue — seems to know exactly what that plan will be, let alone when it will be announced or implemented.