By Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provides clean, renewable fuel in Iowa and across the country — ensuring that biofuels grown by our farmers are included in the nation’s fuel supply.
But it remains under threat.
Working across the aisle with my colleagues, we’ve been speaking out against repeated attempts to undermine or circumvent the RFS and broken promises to Iowa farmers since the beginning of this Congress, including earlier this month in a bipartisan letter to the president.
Time and time again, this administration has undercut the RFS, threatening the livelihoods of farmers in the fields and killing good-paying biofuel jobs in Iowa’s small towns and rural places.
On June 8, I led more than 40 other members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — on a letter to the president demanding that his administration uphold the integrity of federal fuel standards by denying any blanket requests for waivers from federal biofuel blending requirements. These waivers help Big Oil, but threaten the livelihoods of Iowa farmers and small businesses.
We’re hearing these concerns directly from Iowa communities, with mayors from Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown sending a similar letter to the EPA this spring warning against further waivers.
This administration has already made unprecedented and unwarranted attacks on the RFS, resulting in jobs losses and plant closures across the Midwest. Allowing blanket RFS waivers would hurt even more, putting rural communities in greater danger as we battle the effects of the trade war and the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Granting these waivers would be a betrayal of our farmers.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic, on top of the damage caused by abuse of the small refinery exemption waivers, have caused more than 150 biofuel plants across the country to either completely or partially idle production. At an already turbulent time for ethanol and biodiesel producers, we should be taking action to support the industry and our farmers — not undermine them further. We need to make sure that our rural economies are in the best possible position to recover from this crisis.
We’re ready to work with the administration on ways to deliver on continued investment and support for biofuels, which offer an immediate and proven path toward reducing air pollution and emissions, driving economic growth and creating jobs here in Iowa.
I’m proud to stand with the Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, the Renewable Fuels Association, and Growth Energy in demanding the denial of these waivers.
As Iowa farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross said in agreeing that rural America can’t afford another setback: “With the significant slowdown of ethanol production already reducing corn demand and impacting corn prices, unjustified requests to waive the RFS would bring more economic harm to agriculture. Corn farmers thank these Representatives, led by Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer and the bipartisan co-chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus, for sending a clear message to reject attempts to waive RFS requirements and make a difficult situation worse. We need to maintain markets for agriculture and renewable, clean fuels, not have them taken away.”
No more broken promises. The administration must support Iowa’s farmers by upholding the RFS. This is a fight we just can’t afford to lose.
Abby Finkenauer represents Iowa’s First District in the U.S. House of Representatives.