(Stanton) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is confident the EPA will uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2020.
In 2018, the EPA granted 31 small refinery exemptions, which took an estimated 13.4 million gallons of ethanol out of the nation's supply. Current RFS levels require 15 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended into gasoline in a year. Reynolds says she is constant communication with federal officials to make up the gallons lost to the exemptions.
"I've had the opportunity to visit with (EPA) Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler, (Agriculture) Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, I've met with President Trump and with other senators to really talk about the impact this has in rural Iowa," said Reynolds. "Our main message was that 15 billion gallons means 15 billion gallons. That's what the statute calls for, so whatever small refinery waivers are issued, let's make sure we net out 15 billion gallons. That's what the message has consistently been in visiting with both the cabinet and president."
Ethanol is estimated to account for 37% of the U.S. corn market. The USDA predicts around 230 million fewer bushels of corn will be needed for ethanol production in the current marketing year. In addition to finding more domestic markets, Reynolds says she is hoping to add money to the FY 2021 state budget for ethanol infrastructure.
"The Japan trade agreement -- when we were over there on a trade mission -- they said there are opportunities for ethanol there," said Reynolds. "Not only do we need to grow domestic demand, but I'll be looking at putting additional funding into our renewable fuel infrastructure program this year, so that we can help build out the infrastructure and build out domestic use."
This fall, President Trump agreed to reallocate any gallons lost to exemptions back into the RFS. However, the EPA sought comment on a proposal from the U.S. Department of Energy that would use a three-year rolling average to determine the amount of gallons reallocated. Reynolds says she is confident the president will keep his word on the RFS.
"I'm going to take the president at his word," said Reynolds. "He has made it very clear that that was what he was going to see happen. I believe that he is going to make it happen and take him at his word. He said 15 billion gallons means 15 billion gallons. That was the number one ask that we had. I'm going to put my faith in that."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledged farmers may be frustrated by small refinery exemptions, but he says the administration is working to rebuild trust.
"I think trust has been damaged, but you have to regain and rebuild trust by carrying out what we are telling you," said Perdue. "That's yet to be determined. I think just like the governor said, I trust President Trump to insist and make sure that's what happens."
Reynolds and Perdue were in Stanton Thursday.