Iowa’s ethanol producers and farmers may soon hear some positive news after weeks of turmoil, according to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who met with White House, Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency officials last week.
Grassley said President Donald Trump was surprised that his decision to exempt 31 refineries from their ethanol obligations generated opposition, particularly in corn-growing areas.
In their White House meeting, Grassley said he and other senators met with the president and vice president, with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the phone, and presented a plan to correct the problem. It would require gallons waived from small refineries to be re-assigned to someone else.
The administration, he said, had a 13-point plan.
“We went in with a simpler plan, that if it comes out on paper the way that the White House seemed to agree with us, then I would say we have a win-win situation,” Grassley told reporters Tuesday on a conference call.
It’s up to the EPA now to write up the agreement and make it public.
“I’m not going to announce anything or say cheers until I see it on paper because EPA’s putting it on paper and I know that there’s a big voice for Big Oil in EPA,” Grassley said. “I been hoodwinked so many times not just by EPA on this issue but other bureaucracies as well, so I’m going to see if what they talked about is the end product.”
Grassley declined to provide a timeline for when he expected the EPA to make the agreement public.
Two northwest Iowa ethanol plants, Plymouth Energy in Merrill and Siouxland Energy Cooperative in Sioux Center, have been idled recently, in part because the waivers dragged down the market price.