When will enough ethanol be enough?
by Chet Thompson
July 9, 2019
In recent weeks, President Trump returned to Iowa to court U.S. farmers ahead of the official launch of his reelection campaign and to sign his much-anticipated rulemaking allowing year-round sales of E15, an unlawful action that the U.S. refining industry is challenging in court.
Instead of thanks, the ethanol industry responded to the president’s gift with calls for even more. The ethanol industry’s latest demand is for the president to eliminate lifelines used to help small refineries that experience disproportionate economic hardship from the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The lifelines I’m referring to are Small Refinery Exemptions. When Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard, it was rightly concerned that the program might threaten the viability of small refineries and the employees and local communities that rely on them. To prevent this, Congress included a provision in the law that requires the EPA to exempt from the Renewable Fuel Standard small refineries that are disproportionately economically affected. As the courts have said, this relief is not optional. Thus, it is not something that the president can bargain away to appease ethanol interests.