WASHINGTON, DC — Governor Kim Reynolds was back in Washington, DC again on Wednesday but the status of a deal from President to ‘make good’ with ethanol producers is the same as her last visit: TBD.
Reynolds traveled to the nation’s capitol on Wednesday to take part in the meeting of the Workforce Advisory Board lead by presidential adviser Ivanka Trump. The mission of that board is to find ways to encourage Americans to train and “re-skill” themselves to find in demand jobs.
In the meantime the demand for Midwest ethanol is dwindling. Earlier this summer the Trump EPA approved 31 waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard for oil refineries, allowing them to bypass the law requiring them to add American ethanol to their fuel blends. Those waivers are supposed to be reserved for small refineries facing financial problems. However the Trump administration has approved waivers for highly profitable refineries.
Those waivers mean around 1.4 billion fewer gallons of ethanol will be produced in 2019, according to Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. Two Iowa refineries have now shutdown production due to lack of demand. Ethanol and corn prices have both dropped as well.
Three weeks ago President Trump announced plans for a ‘giant package’ for ethanol producers to make good for the losses from the RFS waivers. However, there still is no sign of a plan. Last Thursday Governor Reynolds and Senators Grassley and Joni Ernst met with the president to again press him to correct the damage done to the ethanol industry.
On Wednesday when asked if she still expected a plan soon, Reynolds says she was still hopeful. “Yeah, we hope so. We’d like it sooner rather than later because I think that will go a long ways in providing the certainty to the industry that we are looking for,” Reynolds said, “I’ll take the president and the administration at their word.”
Senator Charles Grassley was less enthusiastic on Wednesday on the hopes of President Trump keeping his word on an ethanol fix and he pointed to the President’s calendar to make his point.
“Here’s what some of us are concerned about. Tomorrow the president meets with Senators from oil states and who else I don’t know. Sometimes that tends to change things,” Grassley says, “There were enough people in the room a week ago when I was there that said this is a win-win for everybody.”