Ernst and Naig: Demand the federal government uphold biofuel law

As Published In: Mason City Globe Gazette

As Iowans know, biofuels are an essential part of our state’s economy. From Burlington to Cedar Rapids and Sioux Center to Council Bluffs, and every community in between, Iowans depend on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). And they expect the federal government to uphold and adhere to this law.

In both Washington, D.C., and Des Moines, we’ve relentlessly pushed the administration to take action on the so called “gap-year” small refinery exemptions since the minute oil companies came up with this ludicrous idea in yet another attempt to get around complying with the RFS. And we’re glad to see that our hard work paid off: the Trump administration heeded our calls to deny these unwarranted waivers that place undue hardship on Iowa’s farmers and rural communities.

These waiver rejections build on a string of commitments from the Trump administration to cut federal red tape and increase access to biofuels. Recently, the president signaled that he will allow fuel retailers to sell higher blends of ethanol, like E15, using existing infrastructure, which will give consumers greater access to cheaper, cleaner choices at the pump. And on top of this, the administration announced a recent 90-day extension of our ethanol export quota with Brazil, which will allow our negotiators the time they need to break down trade barriers with our largest export market for U.S. ethanol.

Looking ahead, we promise we’ll continue to fight tooth and nail at the state and federal level on behalf of Iowa’s biofuel community. Ethanol and biodiesel are two instrumental pieces of the broader puzzle when it comes to strengthening our rural communities and boosting Iowans’ incomes through high-paying, good biofuels jobs.

From Washington, DC, locking in these pieces means pressing EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reject the gap-year waiver exemptions that remain, along with 33 additional exemptions covering 2019 and 2020. We’ll also keep advocating to streamline federal labeling requirements for higher ethanol blends. At the state level, we’ll continue to work with Governor Reynolds – another biofuel champion – to improve Iowa’s investment in the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP).

Together, partnering with Iowa farmers and producers, we’ll keep fighting to protect the integrity of the RFS and hold the EPA to their commitment to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol, as well as advocate for trade relationships and investment in infrastructure that promote greater consumption of our Iowa-corn and soy renewable fuels around the world.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Click here to read the column in the Mason City Globe Gazette.

Click here or on the image above for an official portrait of Senator Ernst.