Trump sides with farmers on biofuel debate


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Corn Field (fishhawk/ Flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 1, 2017

During the 2016 election, Trump promised farmers that he would maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires refiners to blend biofuel into gasoline nationwide. His support was questioned with nominations to the EPA for Carl C. Icahan and Scott Pruitt. Icahn is a billionaire Texas oil refiner and Scott Pruitt favored decreasing biofuel levels. Icahn has since stepped down after backlash from Congress that his policy on ethanol was influenced by his financial investment.

Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that they will continue to support Iowa farmers and maintain a similar quota for biofuel.  Refineries are required to blend approximately 20 billion gallons of biofuel. According to Department of Agriculture, about 40% of domestic corn, and about 30% of domestic soybeans now go into ethanol for biofuel.

Support for biofuel is not universal. Oil companies argue that recent research shows biofuel is not better than oil, so ethanol is only benefitting famers. Scientists worry that an increase demand for corn and soybean production has backfired. Farmers are having to expand their farmland. This cuts down open grasslands which hurts biodiversity and the ability for the air to store carbon.

Chet Thompson, the president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, wrote in an email, “Unfortunately it appears that EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to King Corn.”

 

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