President Donald Trump visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE) in Council Bluffs, Iowa one year ago – June 11, 2019 – to celebrate regulatory changes allowing year-round sales of E15.
Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, reflects on the momentous occasion. He recalls a “very exciting day.”
“We had an incredibly rare opportunity to speak with the President about the industry and the issues we were facing,” Cooper said. “We had his undivided attention for a few hours, while he was at SIRE, and we made the most of it.”
Cooper recalls feeling “optimistic” and “heard,” with positive thoughts about having a friend in the Oval Office. President Trump promised to look into small refinery exemptions (SREs) and stated that he was with the ethanol industry. However, those words became nothing but a distant memory a few short months later, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed out 31 small refinery exemptions.
“We were completely shocked,” Cooper said. “Those waivers hit us like a ton of bricks. They exacerbated the industry’s struggles and overwhelmed the traction and modest gains we were beginning to see from E15.”
Industry stakeholders then received support from Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and others, who secured a commitment from President Trump. He promised to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and to begin reallocating blending obligations lost to such exemptions moving forward.
One year later, ethanol proponents still look for a commitment from Administration officials, when it comes to upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“We are asking for, and this goes back to our discussion with the President at SIRE, the Administration to faithfully enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that means adopting the Tenth Circuit decision nationwide and refusing to let the statutory volumes to be eroded by small refinery waivers,” Cooper said.