Missouri Farmers to Trump: Keep EPA Roadblocks Out of Renewable Fuels

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) move to reduce renewable fuels production breaks a solemn promise from President Trump to American farmers.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, well within the president’s first year in office, has threatened unprecedented actions to cut biodiesel production under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. They include cutting already set 2018 volumes and slashing 2019 volumes.

Matt McCrate

Those actions are directly contrary to Trump’s promise to support the RFS and the rural communities that helped elect him.

For the EPA, the move also defies common sense – reducing the amount of biodiesel, the only advanced biofuel in the marketplace. For an agency charged with protecting human health and the environment to cut volumes of renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gases by 86 percent, emissions by 67 percent and particulate matter by 47 percent compared to petroleum-based diesel….

Common sense may not be so common, but the timing of this administration’s double-speak couldn’t be worse.

Turmoil within the industry caused by the EPA’s capitulation has resulted in foreign competitors greedily flaunting the rules to their own advantage, further undercutting our domestic biofuels industry. In August, the Commerce Department found that countries, including Argentina and Indonesia, were double-dipping in violation of trade laws – getting a subsidy in their own country and taking advantage of a loophole in our own country’s blender’s tax credit.

The EPA’s move to cut biodiesel production doesn’t signal that the tide will turn any time soon. Instead, we’re looking at the EPA harming a U.S. industry already declared harmed by trade violations – a double-whammy for clean energy production.

Missouri’s soybean farmers, biodiesel producers, and the rural communities around them, have more than come to the table, producing $7.7 billion in economic output, $3.2 billion in added value and $1.4 billion in labor income. Soybean is the Show Me State’s top cash crop and a key driver for the state’s economy.

Biodiesel alone supports more than 2,500 Missouri jobs directly. Figure in the indirect jobs, and that number grows to 6,400. All told, soybean production and processing contributes 20,700 jobs to Missouri’s economy.

Rather than looking forward with optimism, the uncertainty created by EPA’s moves to curb biofuel production has caused manufacturers to pause, wondering if they will have to cut their production, or worse, their staff and operations.

The EPA, like all federal agencies, should be promoting American-made products – especially those aligned with their mission. Gutting the required levels for domestically-produced biodiesel gives a leg up to foreign producers at the expense of our rural communities and air quality.

I strongly urge President Trump to keep his RFS promise and reject efforts to curtail the production of home-grown biodiesel. Cutting domestic biofuels production does NOT put America first. In this case, President Trump, we’ll be watching your administration’s EPA very closely for true sign of your support.

To borrow a line from a well-known Missourian, you’ve got to show me.

 

Matt McCrate is president of the Missouri Soybean Association and farms with his family in southeastern Missouri.