Elizabeth Warren took a tour of an ethanol production facility today in Dyersville, Iowa. It was the latest in a series of presidential candidate visits to biofuel facilities in the caucus state, and she used the occasion to point out where she felt Donald Trump’s administration was falling short in delivering for Iowa farmers.
Led around the sprawling facility by local leaders at the plant, Warren viewed a massive pile of corn feed that had its starch removed in the facility’s process. Warren quipped that “it smells a little like breakfast cereal” before grabbing a handful of it for herself.
Once inside the ethanol production building, Warren had a conversation with the board operator, monitoring the computer that keeps track of the alcohol-making process. The four-monitor setup was loaded with graphs and information, but Warren easily conversed with the operator about the process and science behind making ethanol.
Warren told reporters afterward that stopping in at facilities like this one is the best way to understand how all the pieces fit together.
“I really like seeing how things are made,” Warren said. “It’s educational, but it also helps me better understand how a place that’s processing corn ethanol is rooted in its community and how it’s also tied to the entire rest of the world. There’s only a certain amount you can get from reading; sometimes you just gotta show up and talk to the people who are doing it.”
Warren noted that understanding the global connections of these industries was important for developing a plan to recover from Trump’s aggressive tariffs.
“Trade policy by tweet doesn’t work,” she said. “When you want to push back on someone like China, it’s very important that we have the maximum power to do that, and that means working with our allies. But at the same moment that the president has increased tariffs against China, he has also increased tariffs against Canada, against the European nations, and against South Korea. We need our allies to work in concert with us.”
Warren warned that trade relationships work both ways, and that America shouldn’t be closing itself off from markets that farmers have built.
“I talked to Iowa farmers who worked hard to develop markets overseas, only to see Trump’s tariffs destroy access to those markets,” Warren explained. “It’s a real fear; those markets are not coming back. Once those buyers have found someplace else to go, it will be very hard to lure them back.”
Trump will be stopping at an ethanol facility in Council Bluffs tomorrow to celebrate his lifting of the E15 seasonal restrictions, which Warren says makes sense policy-wise.
“I think it’s good to have higher renewable fuel. But I hope while the president is here he will also be talking about the exceptions that he’s been granting over and over and over that are creating real hardship for this industry,” said Warren. “It’s not going to mean nearly as much to ramp up on the E15, if at the same time, all of the refinery exceptions mean that, in fact, there’s no corn ethanol in much of what’s being produced.”
Under the Trump Administration, the EPA has been handing out small ethanol refinery waivers to nearly anyone who has asked for them, including companies like Exxon and Chevron – giving out 48 in 2016 and 2017 combined. When asked how she would cut down on these waivers if elected president, Warren placed blame on Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler and their ties to the fossil fuel industry.
“I’d probably start out by not having a coal lobbyist as head of the EPA,” Warren said of what her administration would do different. “I’d like to see someone as the head of the EPA who believes in following the rules and is trying to keep our world cleaner, not someone who is running it through the profitability of the fossil fuel industry.”
by Josh Cook