U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley defended the biodiesel industry Tuesday at Renewable Energy Group’s biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa.
“(EPA chief Scott Pruitt) knew the importance of biofuels and that it was a big issue during the Presidential election in the Midwest and he was going to follow the president’s lead on it,” the Iowa Republican said during a news conference and before an audience of industry officials and farmers. “He’s not following the president’s lead and that’s why we have problems to work out.”
Grassley was referring to the notice EPA released last month seeking input on a proposal to cut the 2018 volumes of biodiesel to be blended with the nation’s gasoline supply under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard by 315 million gallons from the 2017 number.
“He (Pruitt) is proposing changes that would roll back some of our success and cut back on the use of biofuels, especially biodiesel,” said Ron Heck, a soybean farmer and member of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.
Those successes began in the 1990s and continued through 2005, when the RFS was enacted, and beyond. Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley said decades ago, the biodiesel market was only 500,000 gallons. By 2016, it had grown to 2.9 billion gallons.
Kimberley said if the mandated volumes of biodiesel were to be reduced, it would cost jobs all across U.S. agriculture and in related industries.
“I don’t think that is what President Trump wants for rural America, the very same people who got him elected,” Kimberley said. “It is discouraging to see this regression from the administration’s EPA and urge them not to buckle to big oil.”
In addition to the Iowa Soybean Association members, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and biodiesel producers attended the event.
Brad Albin, vice president of manufacturing for Renewable Energy Group, praised Grassley for bringing attention to the EPA proposal.
“From our very beginning Senator Grassley has been the federal policy leader for biodiesel and renewable fuels,” Albin said.
The farm-state senator also vowed to renew the biodiesel tax credit which expired in 2016. In addition, he said he would also like to change it from a blenders’ tax credit to a producers’ tax credit.
“I hope congress will enact a multiyear production credit during consideration of tax reform this fall,” Grassley said. “I also (will continue to) maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard.”
Grassley and other Midwest senators, including Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, have a meeting scheduled with Pruitt Oct. 17.