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Support bipartisan push for halting ethanol waivers

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.


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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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 09/27/2019 - 03:54 pm.

    Corn ethanol is an environmental disaster. From increased emissions to water use to pollinator destruction, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a worse idea. Somehow it was once pitched as an environmental solution, but environmentalists got wise long ago.

    We should be cheering the shuttering of ethanol plants. Not wanting to keep something that reduces gas mileage and damages engines.

  2. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 09/28/2019 - 08:39 am.

    The end of these subsidies shows exactly how much the Trump values American agriculture – not at all. It is surprising that environmentalists want to join with Trump to help push the rural Midwest into recession or depression by forcing the abrupt closure of these plants. Frankly, small farmers invest more in environmental conservation than city and suburban folks who big carbon footprints.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 09/29/2019 - 02:57 pm.

      Why would you be surprised that environmentalists want to stop an environmental disaster? The ethanol industry is just built on fraud – it contributes absolutely nothing, but exacts a terrible cost. The rural economy would be better off if people were engaging in legitimate enterprises.

  3. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 09/30/2019 - 08:10 am.

    Corn ethanol is indeed an ecological disaster. Bad for the soil, bad for the waters, bad for pollinators, and really not very good for automobiles – it is also just about pointless energy-wise, insofar as corn takes as much energy to grow and process as you get in fuel.

    If you want to raise the price of corn, start making it easier to grow hemp, which is a far more useful plant anyway, and better for all of the above including farmers.

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