ST. LOUIS — The Environmental Protection Agency stunned the corn industry with news it approved 31 additional small refinery exemptions for big oil companies. NCGA President Lynn Chrisp sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Aug. 29 encouraging him to step in and help out corn farmers that have been affected by this mistake.
The body of this letter is provided below:
Dear President Trump:
Three weeks ago, your Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 31 additional refinery exemptions to big oil companies. This news sent shockwaves through the corn industry and put us back on our heels.
Days after the 31 exemptions were announced, the nation’s largest ethanol producer, POET, idled production at an ethanol plant in Indiana. This action came after they already reduced production at half their facilities, with the largest drop taking place in Iowa and Ohio. Just yesterday, Corn Plus, a farmer-
owned ethanol plant in Minnesota that has been in business for over 25 years, announced closure. More plant closings could be on the horizon if you don’t step in and address the damage done by your EPA, which has issued far more exemptions than any previous administration.
Corn farmers are wrestling with a perfect storm of poor weather and market disruptions due to ongoing trade disputes. The announcement of more waivers granted to refineries has pushed farmers beyond their limits. We appreciate your efforts to remove the barrier to year-round sales of E15, but you should know these waivers completely undermine the growth potential for higher blends of ethanol.
We know you have heard from corn farmers who are frustrated by EPA’s unabated assault on ethanol. Nearly 3,000 news stories have covered this topic since the 31 exemptions were announced. Corn farmers have emailed nearly 2,500 letters to you and the EPA voicing their concerns with your management of the RFS program.
We were pleased to learn you are considering options to remedy some of the harm caused by exemptions, with input from USDA. You should know anything less than a significant change in the direction EPA has taken with the RFS will be less than satisfying to America’s corn farmers who are nearing harvest and losing markets to deliver their corn.
At a minimum, we expect any actions to improve this situation be immediate and impactful for corn farmers. We have heard news reports about waiting until 2021 to redistribute exempted gallons. You should know 2021 will be too late. Plants are closing. Jobs are being lost in rural America. We need these changes to take effect for the coming year, putting meaning back in the RFS now instead of waiting until 2021.
Mr. President, corn farmers are in a bad spot right now. We need your help to change course on the RFS and uphold your commitment. We need your help to make things right for America’s corn farmers, and we stand ready to help you consider the options that will achieve that goal.
Nebraska farmer and NCGA President