Eyes up here, Donald….
Wherever Donald Trump was looking when Governor Kristi Noem visited him Monday in the White House, he wasn’t looking at her call for more federal support for ethanol. Yesterday, the EPA finalized the Trump switcheroo on ethanol, issuing a renewable fuel standard that doesn’t include the language Trump proposed to placate corn growers earlier this year with a return to the status quo ante. Yesterday Governor Noem had to admit that Trump is not living up to his promises:
“President Trump made a promise to South Dakota farmers, and the rule the EPA announced today fails to hit that mark,” said Noem. “I appreciate the EPA’s efforts to bolster ethanol production across the country, but South Dakota producers deserve better. I will be communicating with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and President Trump on this issue.”
In a joint October letter sent to the EPA from Noem and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Noem said that the agency’s proposed rules “demonstrate that EPA is oblivious to the harm it has caused.” In the past three years, the EPA has issued 85 small refinery waivers, representing a loss of over 4.3 billion gallons of biofuels [Office of the Governor, press release, 2019.12.19].
You will be communicating with Trump on this issue? Kristi, you were just there Monday, in the White House, with nothing but Mike Pence between you and the Donald. Why didn’t you communicate with him about ethanol then? What, could he not hear you over the sound of fireworks in his head?
But like the rest of farm country, Noem can’t just blast the Administration for betraying farmers the way she did when there was a black man in the White House. She falls back into Trumpistani battered spouse-syndrome and thanks Trump for the continued beatings:
While this rule needs more work, I’m grateful to the administration for fighting for American farmers and ranchers. I am glad to see the EPA building off our win to permit year-round sales of E-15 in their work to develop an infrastructure program. Increased ethanol production is absolutely critical for South Dakota producers as recent years have seen lower commodity prices and unstable market conditions [Gov. Noem, 2019.12.19].
Psst—Kristi! I think you slipped an unintended for into that first sentence.
Let’s hear from some less politically beholden observers on the Trump Administration’s broken ethanol promises:
“Apparently President Trump doesn’t care about his promise to Iowa’s farmers,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Jim Greif. “He had the opportunity to tell his EPA to stick to the deal that was made on Oct. 4.”
The final agreement does not include language Trump agreed to that the EPA will add ethanol gallons back into the nation’s gasoline supply based on the exemptions granted in the past three years. Instead the final rule says EPA will base oil refinery exemptions on Energy Department recommendations.
The ethanol industry and corn farmers who raise the grain that’s made into ethanol said the agreed upon language would have created market certainty by assuring the industry that it would meet the 15 billion gallons (56.78 billion liters) of corn-based ethanol for 2020 mandated by federal renewable fuel standard law [David Pitt, “Farm, Ethanol Groups Angered at Final EPA Ethanol Rule,” AP, 2019.12.19].
More on Trump’s farm failure:
The Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group for biofuel makers, also said exemptions for smaller refineries undermine the target. Thursday’s requirement, association president Geoff Cooper said, “fails to deliver on President Trump’s commitment to restore integrity to the [renewable fuel standard], and it fails to provide the market-certainty desperately needed by ethanol producers, farmers and consumers looking for lower-cost, cleaner fuel options” [Katy Stech Ferek, “Biofuel Groups Criticize EPA Ethanol Rule as Too Favorable to Oil Refiners,” Wall Street Journal, 2019.12.19].
Trump has made many promises to South Dakota farmers, but our supposedly influential Republican Governor can’t get him to stick to his word. When will we ever learn?