Ethanol Supporters Argue Against Cuts in Renewable Fuel Standards

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Dave Franzman

DES MOINES & LINN COUNTY, Iowa- Iowa political leaders and supporters of ethanol are fighting back against an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to cut back on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

The EPA has proposed reducing the fuel requirement in 2014 to 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels. That is three billion gallons less than Congress required in a 2007 law. Traditional biofuels, mostly ethanol from corn, would fall from 14.2 to 13 billion gallons this year under the cutbacks proposed by EPA.

The EPA is taking comments on the proposed action until January 28th. And negative comments were plentiful all day in a “Hearing in the Heartland” sponsored by the state of Iowa in Des Moines. Ethanol industry representatives from several Midwestern states testified how the new renewable fuel standards will impact both farmers and the industry.

In kicking off the conference, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad warned that a reduction in renewable fuel mandates would harm the 41 ethanol and 13 biodiesel plants in Iowa and could cost the industry 45,000 jobs nationwide. Branstad and a number of the speakers blamed a push by “big oil” interests who want to eliminate some of the competition from renewable fuel sources.

In rural Linn County, several farmers who are active in the ethanol issue said they’re monitoring the day-long state conference. But they are putting more faith in farmers making individual comments to the EPA to head off any cutbacks.

Larry Jons, a long time Linn County ethanol activist, said many groups predict a negative impact of 20 cents a bushel on the price of corn if the renewable fuel mandate is cut. Jons said with the price of corn currently close to the cost of production, any negative decision by the EPA would have a big impact on the bottom line for Iowa farmers.

Jons said he appreciates the efforts by Iowa officials to organize a conference on the renewable fuels standard. But he’s afraid the politicians who will have the greatest sway on the mandate are not the ones watching what’s going on in Des Moines.

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