The comment period is open on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed fix to the ethanol demand it has tinkered with in recent months.
For weeks, the ethanol industry has pressed the federal government to formally account for gallons it exempted small refineries from blending when the EPA approved 31 small refinery waivers.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he intends to submit comments along with the ethanol industry expressing his concern that the legally required number of gallons be met.
“I trust the president of the United States. I don’t trust EPA. I guess I trust [U.S. Agriculture] Secretary Perdue,” Grassley said.
But at the same time, he says the administration has some fences to mend in the Corn Belt.
“There’s a big public relations problem with people in the ethanol industry, corn farmers, this senator about EPA keeping their word,” he said. “Playing footsie with the big oil companies, etc. etc. So only time will tell, and maybe that time is 12 months from now, I don’t know.”
Grassley says the EPA needs to demonstrate beyond any doubt that the 15 billion gallons of ethanol required by the Renewable Fuel Standard will be blended.
Grassley also talked about a bill he introduced with Montana Democrat Jon Tester, the senate’s other farmer. The Seeding Rural Resiliency Act aims to prevent suicide among farmers and ranchers.
Grassley’s hopeful rural communities will be more open to services now than they have been historically.
“There’s a new look at mental health issues generally, without the stigma,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to say there isn’t some stigma, but compared to the years that I’ve lived, (it’s) practically gone away compared to what it was.”
The bill would dedicate $3 million to a multimedia public service campaign that would be a partnership between the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
Grassley doesn’t anticipate controversy, though the bill doesn’t currently have a companion in the House.