The ethanol dance: Credit Trump, blame Pruitt
Corn Growers called on the administration “to keep the president’s commitment to America’s farmers and leave the RFS intact.”
President Trump campaigned as a supporter of corn ethanol and he has stuck to that promise, although Midwestern lawmakers feel obliged to remind him of it during bureaucratic infighting with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) called Pruitt “about as swampy as you get” in the days leading to Trump’s rejection of a plan to approve yearround sales of E15 and count ethanol exports toward meeting the RFS.
“I did you a good favor for the farmers yesterday. Right? We love the farmers,” Trump told Ernst a day after his decision. Farm groups applauded the outcome; the Corn Growers called on the administration “to keep the president’s commitment to America’s farmers and leave the RFS intact.” The American Coalition for Ethanol asked, “Where does that leave us today? The president has promised to allow E15 year-round, but the EPA has failed to make good on his promise.”
“Avoiding a loss at this point with a pro-oil guy like Pruitt, I consider a win,” said Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). The ethanol industry blames Pruitt, the former state attorney general of Oklahoma, for indiscriminate issuance of “hardship” waivers from the RFS for small-volume refineries. He also promoted a cap on RINs prices last winter. Grassley says the key issue now is making sure EPA sets an airtight ethanol mandate of 15 billion gallons in 2019 “so we don’t get cheated like we did this year.”