American farmers were thrilled to hear that President Donald Trump would review and possibly discontinue a program that grants waivers to small refineries that do not add ethanol to their gasoline.
But according to The Hill, Trump offered farmers another letdown after giving the go ahead to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to keep passing out waivers.
Earlier this year, Trump indicated he would end a summertime ban on adding ethanol to gasoline — put in place to help cut down on smog — and allow the additive all year long.
Delayne D. Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, said Trump’s announcement of the plan made him proud that he voted for the Republican.
“I was equally shocked when I learned that there were 31 small refinery exemptions” given to refineries owned by major companies, he said.
A source familiar with the situation told Reuters: “The president has heard from all sides and in the end he has had enough of it. He called [EPA Administrator Andrew] Wheeler and gave him the green light.”
But Trump is skating on thin ice with American farmers these days, a group that overwhelmingly supported him in the last election.
The president’s ongoing trade war with China has hit farmers particularly hard, and the ethanol decision is seen by many as adding insult to injury.
Jeff Jorgenson, a board member of the Iowa Soybean Association, said the ethanol requirement was an opportunity to help producers who have been harmed by Trump’s tariff scheme — especially since his administration "has played a role in market instability."
The EPA said in a statement to The Hill: "EPA, with our federal partners, including USDA and the Department of Energy, continues to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard program in accordance with the Clean Air Act, taking into consideration additional direction from Congress, and relevant court decisions.
"There is zero evidence that EPA’s congressionally mandated small refinery exemption program, which provides regulatory relief to small refineries around the country, has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers.”