In the wake of 31 Renewable Fuel Standard waivers being granted to refineries last week, Republican senators from Iowa are warning President Donald Trump about the political fallout he’s causing, noting that “our farmers are angry.” The waivers allow oil refineries to avoid blending ethanol into their final product, benefiting oil companies’ bottom lines at the expense of corn farmers.
“Mr. President, you should have done more,” Sen. Joni Ernst said on Saturday. “So, what I’m hearing from our farmers is extreme disappointment, and I’m disappointed, because there is a promise that needs to to be kept for our farmers.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley also hopped in on the action to criticize Trump and the EPA during an appearance on Iowa Press.
“They screwed us when they issued 31 waivers, compared less than 10 waivers during all the Obama years, and we thought that was bad,” Grassley said. “What’s really bad isn’t a waiver; it’s that it’s being granted to people that really aren’t hardship.”
Sen. Grassley has a long record on agricultural issues and the interest of farmers, including pushing for year-round sales of E15 and pressuring the EPA to update their biofuel science mechanisms.
However, Grassley stated that he spoke to Trump approximately 18 months ago about ethanol waivers, which resulted in nothing but a continuation of waivers. He added that Trump, “wants to be considered very pro-ethanol, and he wants to be considered very pro-farmer.”
As we’re starting to see, it turns out that destroying the international commodity markets for American farmers, as well as the domestic ethanol market, maybe isn’t the best way to be considered very pro-ethanol or pro-farmer.
Digging for Substance
The response Grassley gave Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson took nearly a minute and a half. Yet, the statement he gave didn’t provide much substance, instead referencing one-time conversations with Donald and Ivanka Trump.
The video is linked above, but below is his full quote, transcribed word-for-word, for you to read:
“They screwed us when they issued 31 waivers, compared less than 10 waivers during all the Obama years, and we thought that was bad,” Grassley said. “What’s really bad isn’t a waiver; it’s that it’s being granted to people that really aren’t hardship and that’s where it ought to be identified. Like, I have told the president, on one occasion, I said, ’18 months ago we started out this division between ethanol and the small refineries and these waivers,’ and I said, ‘RIN certificates were 80 cents, now they’re down to 20 cents. So, if the problem was 80-cent RIN certificates, why is it a problem today?’ And that’s the way I still see it. Now, I didn’t get an answer from him when I said that, because we were there to talk about other things, but he always brings up ethanol so that I know that he knows about the ethanol issues and he wants to be considered very pro-ethanol and he wants to be considered very pro-farmer. But the EPA, as I told Ivanka Trump, one time, when she came to my office to talk about family-leave issues, I said, ‘can I talk to you about something to tell your dad?’ And I said, ‘you know, he’s got somebody in the EPA and in air-quality divisions that isn’t carrying out his policies, and you tell him he oughta be aware of that.'”
by Josh Cook