Aiming to help farmers, feds change ethanol rules

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On Friday, the Trump Administration says it’s making changes to help farmers who grow corn for ethanol. 

Federal regulations require a certain portion of gasoline to be blended with ethanol.

However, ethanol producers complain that the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed too many gasoline refineries to avoid the ethanol standards, helping crude oil producers and costing farmers.  

Some lawmakers from the Farm Belt have been complaining loudly, while other legislators have been defending the oil companies.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hopes the new compromise will make the oil business and the farmers happy.

The new rules are meant to ensure oil refineries adhere to federal EPA requirements to blend at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline each year.

“Let’s give our ethanol producers and biofuel producers their due,” Perdue said.

Emily Skor with Growth Energy says corn farmers and biofuel producers are relieved.

“Finally, the Trump Administration is taking action. This is a victory for the Midwest,” Skor said. “From this point forward, the EPA is going to change how it operates.”

Skor says oil refineries have been taking advantage of a loophole designed to allow small refineries to opt-out of ethanol blends.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of gallons of production isn’t taking place now,” she said.

Skor says that has cost farmers and biofuel producers millions of dollars.

However, oil industry leaders say it’s not their fault farmers are having a tough year.

Chet Thompson, who represents some of the country’s largest oil refineries, says the decision is purely political. He says many refineries simply can’t afford to buy and blend ethanol.

“Ethanol consumption and production are at all-time highs,” he said. “It threatens jobs it threatens the viability of small refineries.”

But Perdue says he personally lobbied on behalf of farmers, and the rule change is necessary and fair.

“Not to detract from our petroleum producers as well, there is enough for everyone out there,” Perdue said.

Thompson says the oil refineries are considering legal action.

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