Corn Producers Get A Boost From Trump Proposal to Increase Ethanol Production

Photo: AP

After starting a trade war with China that hurt midwestern farmers, and giving “small” refineries a free pass on requirements to produce ethanol, the Trump Administration last Friday announced new rules to increase the mandates for ethanol in order to increase the sale of the biofuel beyond the current requirement of 15 billion gallons annually.

Why This Matters:  With so many special interests pressuring the President, it is hard to please everyone. The Trump Administration has repeatedly given waivers to “small” refineries to allow them not to make gasoline with ethanol in it, which really angered midwestern farmers.  Midwestern farmers were growing increasingly angry and lobbying the White House for relief.  But because the help won’t come until next year, it does not meet the farm groups’ demands, and at the same time the proposal angered oil and gas industry groups.  The American Petroleum Institute (API), the lobby for the oil industry, and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents oil refineries, announced that they would challenge the policy.  And environmental groups are not overly supportive of ethanol even though it is technically renewable — it does not ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it is so energy-intensive to produce.

Mixed Reaction To Ethanol Blending Proposal

  • Midwestern farm-state representatives were pleased — for example, Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa said in a statement that Mr. Trump had “listened to the concerns of farmers and biofuel providers and delivered on their behalf.”
  • But oil and gas state representatives were unhappy with the proposal — Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, noted that refineries employed thousands of people in Wyoming alone, saying “Any plan to transfer small refineries’ biofuel obligations to other refineries will do more harm than good.”
  • The oil and gas industry argued that “What farmers are mad about is trade policy,” said Frank Macchiarola of API.  “This administration, as I’ve said before, is trying to remedy one bad policy with another bad policy.”
  • And farmers are concerned that the Administration will continue to offer waivers to small refineries — with the large refiners never making up the slack — thus rendering the new requirements meaningless.

Up Next

CA Governor Halts Fracking Permits, NY Governor In Standoff Over Natural Gas

CA Governor Halts Fracking Permits, NY Governor In Standoff Over Natural Gas

Governors on both coasts are going to battle with oil and gas companies over climate change. Continuing his strong environmental protection agenda, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced new regulations putting in place a moratorium on fracking and curbed steam-injected oil drilling in the state, which environmentalists have long opposed.  Meanwhile, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo […]

Continue Reading 497 words
Making Microgrids More Accessible

Making Microgrids More Accessible

In the aftermath of the recent PG&E shutdowns, we wrote about the hardships that Californians faced–especially those who didn’t have solar and battery storage available to them.

Fighting climate change means helping ease upfront costs of distributed energy so that it becomes available to low-income households as well as wealthier ones.

Continue Reading 314 words
One Cool Thing:  Maine Approves First Offshore Floating Wind Project in the U.S.

One Cool Thing: Maine Approves First Offshore Floating Wind Project in the U.S.

We wanted to end the week on a high note!  We have written about Norway’s big plans for floating offshore wind — now we will have it in the U.S. too, thanks to the Governor of Maine, Janet Mills, who finally got the 12-megawatt demonstration project green-lit by pushing through legislation that forced state utility […]

Continue Reading 130 words