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WASHINGTON — The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) called for EPA to maintain a strong, equitable Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that follows Congressional intent and levels the playing field for America’s farmers by using the annual volume rule to repair the damage from extensive refinery exemptions.

Michigan farmer Russell Braun provided testimony on behalf of NCGA during an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on the agency’s proposed biofuel targets for 2019.

“With corn prices low, EPA’s decisions have a greater impact on my livelihood and other farmers’ as well.  We believe EPA should use the Renewable Fuel Standard volume rule to remedy the harm caused by the extensive retroactive exemptions given to refineries over the past year and ensure future exemptions are accounted for. These refinery exemptions decrease ethanol blending and reduce demand and profits for my corn crop. Every gallon of renewable fuel blending waived by EPA reduces the consumer benefits of the RFS.”

EPA’s proposal supports some growth in the RFS volumes and continues to propose an implied 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional ethanol. However, the proposed rule allows for retroactive refinery exemptions, without reallocating those waived gallons, undercutting the volume targets and rendering the proposed blending levels meaningless. In the past year, EPA has retroactively waived 2.25 billion ethanol equivalent-gallons from the 2016 and 2017 volumes through 48 refinery exemptions, many of which went to refineries owned by large, profitable companies.

“The EPA should end the practice of granting unjustified RFS waivers behind closed doors and uphold the strong biofuel targets promised by President Trump. America’s corn growers are ready and able to do our part to increase American energy use and production, and hold down prices at the fuel pump,” said NCGA President and North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes. “EPA needs to listen to farmers comments, account for the waivers and make the RFS whole.”

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