Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) held a press conference in Pella, Iowa on Wednesday afternoon to publicize her opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). Governor Reynolds announced that in a phone call with President Trump on Wednesday morning, the president “made it clear he stood with the RFS” and that he understood the policy and the impact the cuts to the RFS2 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) would have on the state and rural America. However, Reynolds admitted that neither Trump nor EPA Director Scott Pruitt guaranteed that there would not be cuts to the RVOs, even with the massive pressure against the proposal exerted by biofuel companies, trade groups, farmers, and other related parties in recent weeks.
Also speaking at the conference was Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Director Monte Shaw, who cited an IRFA-generated study that continued biofuel expansion in the state would generate 11,000 direct or indirect jobs in Iowa by 2018, elevating household income by over $500 million, or 24%. Shaw argued this growth is needed to combat shrinking revenues in the agricultural sector, where farm revenues have decreased for three straight years. Furthermore, Shaw added that the EPA could allow the distribution of E15 in Iowa all year “literally today” if it wanted to, which would send a positive signal to retailers to offer the cleaner-burning, lower-octane fuel.
Similarly, Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberly spoke out against the EPA’s proposed cuts, arguing that there is no legal basis for the EPA to reduce the RFS2 RVO volumes even further. Kimberly noted that the RFS2 provides a valuable market for soybean oil, corn oil, and animal fats, a point reiterated by farmer Dennis Bogards. Bogards attested that cutting the RFS2 would seriously harm the agricultural industry built around it, a fact which is further compounded by low commodity prices and high volumes of agricultural grains and inputs already stored.
The EPA’s Notice of Data Availability (NODA) proposes to cut the final 2018 RVO from 4.24bn gal to as much as 3.77 bn gal, a 15% drop. The closing date for the public to submit comments to the NODA on the Federal Register ends on Thursday, 19 October. Reynolds plans to meet with Director Pruitt in Washington next week.
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