Nebraskans have until Nov. 29 to submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to insist the law is upheld regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association stress this may be the last chance to convince the EPA to reverse course and account for all gallons of ethanol the agency waived through excessive refinery waivers.
“We’re calling upon everyone, not just farmers,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and farmer from Dorchester. “It’s a complicated issue, but ultimately one that impacts everyone in our state. From the farmers who grow our corn, the rural areas benefiting from local ethanol plants, the livestock feeders who utilize distillers grains, the motorists who have economical options at the pumps, all the way to our citizens who like to breathe clean air. Everyone needs to step up and demand the EPA follows the law and chooses farmers over the oil industry.”
Ethanol advocates were encouraged in June when President Trump announced his administration planned to lift the outdated restrictions on the sales of E15 (a 15% ethanol blend) allowing for the fuel to be sold year-round. However, as the E15 rule was finalized in August, the EPA issued 31 additional small refinery waiver exemptions to big oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, releasing them from their RFS obligations. Additionally, the EPA has routinely provided these refineries full exemptions, opposed to the partial relief the Department of Energy has recommended.
“We were encouraged by an announcement from President Trump on Oct. 4 when he stated he was working with our ethanol champions in Congress, such as Sen. Deb Fischer, to fix the mess and uphold the RFS,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. President Trump even took to Twitter and said ‘the farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for ethanol.’ However, days later EPA released their plan, which was a complete slap in the face.”
The EPA has since tinkered with President Trump’s intentions in its annual Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) process. The RVO determines how much biofuel oil refiners will blend into the motor fuel mix. Nebraska Corn was hopeful the RVO would account for all waived ethanol gallons granted by the EPA. However, EPA’s proposal is only half full and only accounts for the recommended gallons the Department of Energy proposed during the waiver application process, which are substantially less.
“Promises were made and promises need to be kept,” said Nerud. “In only three years, the EPA granted 85 exceptions to oil refineries, which destroyed over 4 billion gallons of biofuel demand. This equates to nearly 1.4 billion bushels of corn demand. We can’t remain silent on this.”
The public comment process only takes a couple of minutes and closes Friday, Nov. 29. Comments can be submitted electronically by visiting NebraskaCorn.org.