Ethanol advocates are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the 2019 federal ethanol production mandate to make up for waivers granted this year. Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator who resigned earlier this month, issued waivers so some small refineries didn’t have to blend ethanol into gasoline.
Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, testified at an EPA hearing in Michigan yesterday.
“They said they weren’t going to take comments on small refinery waivers and yet, you know, just about everybody commenting mentioned something about them,” Lamberty said, “and one of the people from the EPA on the panel said: ‘We understand you’re going to have comments about that and we’ve been talking about it back in EPA.'”
Ethanol advocates say more than two billion gallons of the corn-based fuel would have been added to gasoline if Pruitt hadn’t granted those waivers. Lamberty and others are lobbying the EPA to add onto the 2019 federal production guidelines to make up for the losses.
“In the past 18 months basically their approach has been to help refiners find ways to get around the law and to buy less ethanol and get more credit for it,” Lamberty said. “That’s not how congress intended the program to work, so I hope they take the opportunity to restore the volume that was lost.”
About 150 people testified at the EPA’s public hearing on the Renewable Fuels Standard. Governor Reynolds flew to Michigan to testify Wednesday afternoon. One farmer told EPA officials there’s a nearby ethanol plant that buys his corn, so he gets as much as 40 cents more per bushel.
(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)