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EPA Puts Oil Industry's Agenda Ahead of American Farmers

June 16, 2015
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

It hasn't always been easy for the average American farmer.

Farmers have had to work tirelessly to stay afloat amid fluctuating crop demand and a tumultuous environmental and political climate. Despite the chaos, hope springs from domestic biofuel production, which has bolstered rural America while simultaneously decreasing our dependency on foreign oil.

However, on May 29 the Obama administration made a ruling on Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that undermines these efforts. In its announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that "real-world limitations" have prevented the U.S. from reaching its delineated goals for 2014-2016.

While the EPA is correct in recognizing the intent of Congress to continue expanding growth in biofuels, the established targets greatly fall short of rural America's ability to produce low-cost, clean-burning ethanol, and this must be changed.

Rural America has shown incredible advancements in recent years, utilizing innovative, efficient technologies to increase yield and output. Nationally, the RFS has supported 825,000 jobs, many of these in agriculture, while the ethanol industry added 44 billion dollars to the U.S. GDP in 2013.

In Iowa alone, the ethanol industry generates $19.3 billion of total economic output annually and supports over 73,000 jobs.

As ethanol grew over the last decade, so did prosperity in rural America. As ethanol production has plateaued the last couple years, farm income and land value have plateaued or dropped. There's no doubt that the fates of these industries are tied together. By not allowing U.S. farmers to reach their potential for renewable fuel production, we are missing an enormous opportunity for continued prosperity. It seems the government has lost sight of the initial purpose of the RFS, which was designed in 2007 to keep gas prices low, to spur domestic jobs and investment, and to set a path for a more sustainable future. The government knew that the only way to put America's future in our own hands was to promote more fuel choices at the pump.

Thankfully, some key players in Washington haven't forgotten their commitment to rural America. In response to the ruling, United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will provide funding for flex pump infrastructure to increase access to domestic biofuel at the pump. While increased access is welcome, this program is needed because oil companies have refused to make the investments necessary to meet the law. Why are oil companies exempt from making the same investments farmers did?

It's essential that local farmers and community members follow Vilsack's lead and speak out to make biofuels a priority. The EPA has opened a 60-day comment period that allows anyone to express their opinion on the ruling before July 27. Now is the time to make your voices heard and stop the federal government from putting the oil industry's agenda ahead of American farmers.

Why? Because America has long been dependent on foreign oil, and though oil prices have dipped, it's imperative to remember the volatility of the market and stay proactive in our ability to be autonomous. To preserve the advances made in agriculture over the last eight years, the EPA needs to recommit to its initial goals and continue to allow a strong market for first and second-generation renewable fuels, until 2022 and beyond.

To get involved, please visit growthenergy.org/action today to submit your comments to the EPA!

(signed) Daron Wilson

General Manager

POET Biorefining

Emmetsburg

 
 
 

 

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