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Farmers Push for Support of Renewable Fuels

Soybeans are used as biofuels and grown in abundance in the Midwest. (United Soybean Board/Flickr)
Soybeans are used as biofuels and grown in abundance in the Midwest. (United Soybean Board/Flickr)
October 18, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. - Farmers in North Dakota and across the country are pushing policymakers in Washington to support renewable fuels.

The National Farmers Union, in conjunction with the North Dakota Farmers Union and counterparts in other states, wants Congress and the Trump administration to expand the market for ethanol blends and advanced biofuels. However, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering doing just the opposite, with a proposal to lower the amount of biofuel required in the Renewable Fuel Standard program.

Anne Steckel, biofuels adviser for the National Farmers Union, said the abundant Midwest crops of corn and soybeans prop up rural communities.

"It's incredibly important that both of those fuels and usage of those fuels continues to grow," she said. "They've been very supportive of the farm economy and to rural America."

During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to defend the RFS, but EPA chief Scott Pruitt has said reducing biofuels in the program would save money for the oil and gas industry. The EPA is accepting public comment through Thursday on its proposal to reduce the amount of biofuels in the RFS.

Steckel said support for renewable energy also benefits the environment and moves the country toward energy independence.

"It certainly makes a lot of sense, both from the energy security and the benefits to rural America," she said, "as well, of course, as what we do to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions - that we rely and we continue to grow our usage of renewable fuels."

Steckel pushed back against claims that ethanol blends are bad for cars, saying national energy labs have proved that isn't the case and that the fuels are used extensively throughout the Midwest. North Dakota is the 10th-largest producer of ethanol in the country.

The public-comment page for the RFS change is online at regulations.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND