Trade, Renewable Fuels dominate Ernst Town Hall

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) greets constituents prior to a town hall meeting at Garner.

Rebecca Peter | The Leader

GARNER – Trade, tariffs, and renewable fuels dominated the conversation during a town hall meeting at Garner with Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Thursday, Aug. 29.

Mike Hejlik, Britt, commented about the EPA granting exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard to 31 small refineries.

The controversial action has angered ethanol and commodity groups.

 “In Iowa we are very, very supportive of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” Ernst responded. “Part of that is because we produce ethanol. We produce the most ethanol of any other state. That is because we produce the most corn.”

Ernst said that the EPA granting the 31 biofuel exemptions was “a slap at farmers.”

“That amounted about 500 million gallons of conventional ethanol that the industry will not be putting out into traditional gasoline. It really sets us back quite a bit.”

She noted that some ethanol plants are already ramping down production and laying employees off.

Ernst said intent of the exemption was to prevent the small oil refineries from going out of business.

“They had to show demonstrated hardship.”

Congress is finding out that “some of these small refineries are actually owned by Chevron and Exxon,” she said.

 “We are voicing concerns to the [Trump] administration on this,” she said.

“We can talk about legislation and what we’re going to do in the future. The EPA granted these waivers. We are we going to do in the meantime? Plants are shutting down,” she remarked.

Ag Secretary Purdue is working on a plan, she said.

“I don’t know what that is for now. We’ll keep pressure on the administration.”

Read the complete story in the Sept. 4 Leader