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Ethanol Industry, EPA Battle Continues Over RFS

Ethanol Industry, EPA Battle Continues Over RFS — CEO Growth Energy Emily Skor and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

On Oct. 4, President Trump announced that moving forward, EPA would restore integrity to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and ensure every year there would be 15 billion gallons of ethanol blended. This announcement received praise by the ethanol industry and farmers.

Two weeks later, the EPA released its supplemental proposal that could adjust the percentage standards for 2020. Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, said this betrays the original promise.

“It’s a bit of a bait and switch,” said Skor. “We’re frustrated and we’re working very hard to make sure that in a final rule, EPA does what the president said they will do.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said this proposal does not undercut farmers and rural America. He said the EPA and President Trump followed through on their E15 implementation before the driving season started.

During a Q&A with the audience at his Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in Detroit, Wheeler said, “Farmers should be happy.”

“We are committed to making sure we have 15 billion gallons of ethanol next year,” he said. “We estimate what the small refinery exemption (SRE) program will be next year. The purpose of our supplemental proposal was to make sure that we net out at 15 billion gallons so farmers have the certainty of the amount of ethanol going into 2020.”

Skor disagrees with Wheeler, and said farmers are not happy.

“This EPA has been pretty consistent,” she said. “Each year they grant about 1.3 billion gallons of exemptions, so estimate that’s how many you’re going to grant. That’s the most accurate way you can look at this moving forward and project so that at the end of the day, when we blend, we’re blending according to actual blending.”

Wheeler remains steadfast that those 15 billion gallons mean 15 billion gallons.

“The amount of ethanol produced this year was greater than last year so far, and last year was greater than the year before,” said Wheeler. “We don’t see that there was a demand destruction from the small refinery exemption program, but the important point going forward is we’re going to make sure we net out at 15 billion gallons, which is what corn farmers asked for and we are providing.”

Wheeler also said EPA wants to make sure in the future that any small refinery exemptions given won’t undercut the 15 billion gallon mark.