Illinois Farm Bureau members travel to testify on U.S. EPA proposal

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October 30, 2019 

Andrea Casali
Media Relations Specialist
Illinois Farm Bureau®

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Farm Bureau is amongst the organizations voicing their concerns on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  proposed supplemental rule for small refinery exemptions for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Five Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) members traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to give prepared testimonies urging the U.S. EPA to protect the integrity of the RFS.

The group joined other agriculture groups and State Farm Bureaus to oppose the Trump administration’s EPA biofuel package, insisting the deal falls short of the promises made to farmers to maximize the use of renewable fuels.

Imposed changes within the deal include altering the method in which biofuel quotas are calculated when oil refineries are exempted from requirements compelling them to use ethanol and biodiesel. Proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021 are unchanged.

Under the proposed rulemaking, the volume of gasoline and diesel that would be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions (SREs) would be based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the Department of Energy (DOE), including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions.

Because of the disparity between projected SRE exemptions and actual exemptions granted since 2016, farm groups are concerned that the volume of actual exemptions granted in 2020 could very well exceed the number of projected exemptions from DOE, putting corn farmers and ethanol plants back into uncertainty on whether the 15-billion-gallon requirement is being met or undermined.

EPA held a public hearing on Oct. 30, 2019, to receive public input on the proposal. IFB Vice President Brian Duncan, IFB Director Dennis Green, farmers Steve Turner and GraceLynn Dale and IFB Director of Issues Management DeAnne Bloomberg spoke during the hearing. Each speaker had three minutes to testify.

A 30-day comment period from the date of the hearing now follows. The agency has said they will finalize action later this year.

The following are excerpts from IFB members’ testimonies:

“When it worked as it was intended, the RFS was a game-changer for Illinois agriculture. But the recent glut of waivers is chipping away at the integrity of the RFS and is taking an enormous toll on ethanol producers and the bottom lines of farmers in my part of Illinois and across the Corn Belt. We’re bleeding because we’re no longer blending anywhere near the volumes of ethanol today as we once did – and it’s noticeable. A running three-year average of DOE’s recommended waived gallons was not on anyone’s radar. This nation’s corn and soybean farmers need a better deal. Once we get a better deal, we can work on writing a better rule that maintains the integrity of the RFS and that many of us in this room would be able to support.” – Brian Duncan, IFB vice president

“U.S. EPA’s excessive granting of SREs over the last 3 years without shifting of the waived gallons of ethanol has effectively reduced the gallons as established by RFS 2 to be blended each year. This is causing reductions in the price ethanol plants can pay for corn, funds available for capital improvements in the ethanol plants and in some cases, the closing of ethanol plants. I am not asking the EPA to go beyond the gallons that are in the RFS 2; I am only asking that the EPA meet the requirements. Biofuels are a win-win for America, for farmers, for rural economies, for replacement of non-renewable fuels with renewable and for cleaner air.” – Dennis Green, IFB District 13 Director

“Over the past year, as SREs piled up and more ethanol plants announced they were idling production, USDA has reduced its estimate for corn used in ethanol. In fact, corn used for ethanol production fell by 229 million bushels from the 2017/18 marketing year and is the lowest level since the 2015/16 marketing year. Actions like the EPA release of Supplemental Proposal of Renewable Fuel Volume will continue to hurt ethanol and lower corn prices and make agriculture economic times hard for young farmers trying to establish themselves.” – Steve Turner, Cass and Mason County farmer

“I know many farmers who spent much of this year thinking, “Why bother?” Why should we continue to place our bets on this year’s crop? Why should we put in the effort when we aren’t even sure what our global markets might be? A big answer: ethanol. As we look to the future, we should be celebrating ethanol. Young farmers like myself need to feel confident that the markets and opportunities our parents and grandparents fought for will not only be available but abundant. Fossil fuels are finite, but biofuels are renewable. We hear the word ‘sustainable’ every day, yet how sustainable is it to allow so many refineries to limit their ethanol use? It simply isn’t." – GraceLynn Dale, Bureau County farmer, IFB Young Leader


About the Illinois Farm Bureau

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 386,291 and a voting membership of 79,159. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.