Our Take: Biden Kills Trump’s Damaging Waivers | Editorials
President Joe Biden and his administration have proven time and time again that they are not following Donald Trump’s damaging economic policies. It’s good for farmers.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently rejected a petition from an oil refinery asking for an exemption from its obligations to blend cleaner burning ethanol with its oil. It was the first refusal of a new petition under the Biden administration, which also recently revoked three exemptions approved by the Trump administration. About fifteen other petitioners have withdrawn their requests.
These companies likely see the Biden administration as a result of the letter of the law under the Clean Air Act and also a 10th Circuit Court ruling setting the parameters for exemptions.
When the Trump administration took power, it doubled and in some years quadrupled the exemptions and the gallons of ethanol refiners no longer had to mix.
“Our industry has lost over 4 billion gallons of demand due to the widespread abuse of the SRE program by the previous administration, and we are delighted to see that the era of the EPA-induced demand destruction seems to be behind us, ”said the president of the Renewable Fuels Association. and CEO Geoff Cooper in a statement.
Waivers were granted in large quantities under the Trump administration, and farmers made these waivers an electoral issue.
In August 2019, Trump issued 31 waivers that sent shockwaves through the ethanol industry by closing 18 factories, including the Corn Plus plant in Winnebago. Republicans and local Democrats have come together in letters urging Trump to end waivers, with little significant policy change.
The waivers are an exemption from the renewable fuels standard that was approved in a bipartisan vote in Congress in 2005 and requires oil companies and refiners to blend a certain level of renewable fuels into their refined petroleum products. The law was designed to reduce greenhouse gases because the emissions of things like ethanol are lower than those of gasoline.
RFS offers farmers another market for their maize and reduces reliance on direct government payments. The ethanol industry was built by farmers and for farmers. Many have risked their own money to build factories and produce ethanol.
But Trump and his EPA consistently undermine farmers by granting waivers to the oil industry. When the courts ruled that the administration had far exceeded its authority over waivers, the administration made a final round, offering more retroactive waivers and leaving uncertainty about setting a new standard on renewable fuels. .
Last fall, the EPA denied 54 waivers, but critics called the election year a front. Trump previously approved 85 waivers, a number four times the annual average. This action reduced ethanol production by 4 billion gallons and reduced the corn needed to produce ethanol by 1.4 billion bushels.
While additional waivers were rejected towards the end of Trump’s presidency, hours before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump’s EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler approved three more waivers for oil companies. unidentified, according to a statement from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office at the time.
And as the RFA notes, there are 65 pending exemptions. We urge the Biden administration to follow the court rules and the intention of Congress to deny these waivers.
Trump was not a friend of farmers, given his ethanol policy and tariff policies that drastically reduced soybean exports to China. Fortunately, Biden seems to realize the value of farmers and products like ethanol that support farm incomes.
Farmers can be confident that Biden will follow the law and the spirit of the renewable fuel standard.