Iowa groups urge Perdue to champion reform of SRE program

By Erin Voegele | September 03, 2020

The Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Soybean Association are imploring U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to champion reform of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s small refinery exemption (SRE) program during his Sept. 3 visit to Iowa to tour damage caused by the Aug. 10 derecho.

Perdue is scheduled to be joined by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, for the tour. The group is taking an aerial tour of the crop damage caused by the drought and derecho before visiting a nutrient-reducing wetland site to see the state’s conservation efforts in action. The group is also expected to visit two agribusiness sites.

Ahead of the tour, the Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Soybean Association released a statement urging Perdue and the Trump administration to take action to end the ever-widening hole in the RFS by ending the EPA’s granting of illegal waivers to petrochemical companies.

“We greatly appreciate USDA’s broad support for biofuels like biodiesel, including recent cost-sharing grants to build out biodiesel infrastructure and help the industry grow,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “But we are deeply frustrated that President Trump’s USDA supports Iowa’s farmers and biodiesel producers with one hand, while his EPA directly undercuts that support with the other.

“The flood of small refinery exemptions EPA has let loose during the last three years has destroyed demand for more than half-a-billion gallons of biodiesel,” he continued. “That is equal to more than a year’s worth of Iowa’s biodiesel production. One of Iowa’s biodiesel producers was forced to shut its doors a year ago, due to the small refinery exemptions, and others cut back production.

“On August 18, President Trump made a commitment to Iowans that he would speak to EPA about the exemptions,” Kimberley continued. “USDA plays a vital role in the RFS program and Secretary Perdue has been a strong champion of it. On behalf of Iowa’s biodiesel producers, in the nation’s top state for biodiesel production, we ask that he join President Trump in speaking with EPA, urging the agency to end its delay of the 2021 RFS rules and close the ever-widening hole in the statute it has created through small refinery exemptions.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been a trusted partner to Iowa’s soybean farmers through trade disruptions, catastrophic weather and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Bardole, president of the Iowa Soybean Association. “Now, it’s imperative to lean in and join farmers in pressing the administration to hold the EPA accountable for upholding the Renewable Fuels Standard by ending illegal waivers to petrochemical companies.

“Sec. Perdue has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Iowa farmers,” he said. “The USDA’s cost-sharing grants to build out biodiesel infrastructure and help the industry grow has benefited farmers, rural communities and the environment. This support for Iowa’s soybean farmers and biodiesel producers stands in stark contrast to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is creating another emergency for the economic well-being of agriculture.

“EPA’s consideration of granting another 98 refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard is wrong and couldn’t come at a worse time,” Bardole continued. “Such action would multiply the damage to Iowa’s biodiesel industry and soybean complex at a time it can least afford it. The RFS accounts for 13 percent of the market value of a bushel of soybeans – or nearly $1.15. That’s an economic return Iowa’s farmers can’t afford to lose. We ask Sec. Perdue to join President Trump in speaking with EPA. Urge the agency to end its delay of the 2021 RFS rules and close the gaping hole in the statute it has created through small refinery exemptions.”

 

 
 
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