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Support bipartisan push for halting ethanol waivers

Crop prices have been decimated as oil companies have been exempted from ethanol production requirements.

corn field
REUTERS/Jim Young
Corn prices have dropped about 12 percent as a result of the waivers.
The following is an editorial by The Mankato Free Press.

We applaud Minnesota’s Republican state senators and Gov. Tim Walz for urging the Trump administration to cease issuing ethanol waivers, which effectively reduce the price of corn.

Trump, through the Environmental Protection Agency, approved some 31 waivers to oil companies last month, relieving them of requirements to blend ethanol into their products. That has caused a loss in demand for corn of 300 million bushels, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Corn prices have dropped about 12 percent as a result of the waivers.

A letter signed by 15 GOP senators, including Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center and Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, asked Trump to cease issuing any more waivers to oil companies allowing them to skirt federal law that requires they blend cleaner-burning ethanol into their products.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn did not sign onto the letter, but he has signed a letter by the bipartisan Biofuels Caucus with Rep. Collin Peterson, D-7th District, to restore required gallons of ethanol in the upcoming allocation season. A Hagedorn spokesman said Hagedorn has urged implement the Renewable Fuels Standard requiring ethanol blending as Congress intended.

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We have advocated for more immediate action. Some 17 ethanol plants have closed due to plummeting prices, including the Corn Plus ethanol cooperative in Winnebago. An MSNBC report on Monday suggested the Trump administration would respond to angry farmers with a plan to boost ethanol production at other plants of companies that received the waivers. That’s not likely going to bring back ethanol plants that went out of business.

That idea has inherent problems as it would take away a benefit oil companies enjoyed and replace it with the previous mandate they didn’t like. They’re not going to be cheering for that approach.

The ethanol waivers were a mistake from the beginning and apparently caught the industry by surprise.

The Renewable Fuels Standard has been in place for more than 10 years and has always been a bipartisan policy. It’s good to see Republicans stepping up to defend it.

But they and Hagedorn could do more. They have nothing to lose by getting tougher on their president while farmers continue to have a lot to lose as matters stand.

Republished with permission.

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