Kansas Farmers Rally for Renewable Fuels at EPA Hearing in KC
Kansas City, KS–Hundreds of ethanol supporters told the Environmental Protection Agency to leave ethanol volumes as they were intended in the Renewable Fuels Standard at a public hearing in Kansas City, KS on Thursday. The public hearing on EPA’s proposed reduction in ethanol in the Renewable Fuels Standard drew hundreds of farmers, community members, ethanol professionals and students.
Public Hearing on the RFS
EPA heard testimony from 280 people, with most speaking in favor of keeping renewable fuels obligations at the levels that are written in the Renewable Fuels Standard. EPA has cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. The reduction represents nearly 1.5 billion bushels in lost corn demand.
“We just want them to stick to the law. People have invested in and built ethanol plants and we have committed to growing more than enough corn based on the levels that are in the RFS,” McCauley said. “Now EPA wants to change the corn ethanol based on faulty math and politics. We told them that’s wrong.”
Inside the Reardon Center in Kansas City, KS, EPA officials heard testimony from farmers and ethanol plants. They also heard from young people who said their hopes of returning to a career on their family farms was dependent maintaining the RFS.
Rally for Rural America
Outside the public hearing, biofuels supporters gathered for a rally on a hot Kansas day. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad headlined the Rally for Rural America. Three Kansans spoke at the rally: Ken McCauley, Kansas Corn leader and National Corn Growers Association past president; Jeff Oestmann, President and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy ethanol plant in Garnett, and Cheryl Werth, a Wichita fuel retailer. Following the rally, the group marched to the EPA hearing carrying signs that said “American Bushels Not Foreign Barrels. Choose Rural America!”
“This was a very positive event with biofuels supporters from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and from states as far away as Maryland,” Kansas Corn CEO Greg Krissek said. “This was not a good time for our growers to be away from the farm with wheat harvest and late planting and we appreciate the efforts of those who were able to attend.”
EPA Visits Garnett Ethanol Plant
The day before the public hearing, EPA officials toured the East Kansas Agri Energy ethanol plant at Garnett. EPA personnel toured the 45 million gallon per year corn ethanol plant, examined progress on EKAE’s co-located renewable diesel project, and discussed the importance of ethanol and the renewable fuel standard (RFS) with plant management and local investors. They also discussed the plant’s importance to the area’s economy.
While at the plant, EPA officials hand-delivered a letter to EKAE approving the company’s efficient producer pathway petition, which certifies that the company’s ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 27.2 percent compared to petroleum.
“We appreciate EPA bringing the letter, which demonstrates EKAE is producing some of the lowest-carbon corn ethanol in the country,” said Doug Sommer, Vice President of Operations.
Quotes from the EPA Public Hearing on the RFS
Several Kansas agriculture leaders testified at EPA’s public hearing. Here are quotes from their testimony:
“If the agency continues on this path of blocking increased use of biofuels, we all will be negatively impacted. I strongly urge you to reinstate the RVO levels which exist in federal statute today,” said Greg Krissek, KCGA CEO.
“The RFS has boosted rural communities and farm incomes all across the United States – more than any other rural development effort I can think of. The RFS is what gives us access to sell ethanol in a market controlled by the oil industry. To lower the volumes of the RFS today would set back this economic engine dramatically and put rural America in a tailspin. Farmers have geared up to produce enough corn to meet the RFS as it is written. Our family farms are businesses that rely on supply and demand. We are growing corn to meet demand, and to meet the needs of our customers. It is blatantly unfair for EPA to arbitrarily reduce that demand based on politics and bad information,” said Ken McCauley, White Cloud.
“We growers have met head on the need for food, fiber and fuel for our country and have fulfilled needs for many other countries of the world. As a livestock producer, I utilize the distillers grain byproduct for use in our cattle ration. It is high quality and a tremendous asset to our feeding operation,” said Pat Ross, Lawrence.
“I cannot understand why the government agency responsible for protecting the environment would make recommendations that only benefit an industry that has a despicable track record of befouling the environment, poisoning our air and polluting our soil and water. To curtail the ethanol industry by reducing the RFS requirements flies in the face of sound national policy, environmental stewardship and just plain common sense,” said Glenn Caldwell, Garnett
“The advent and growth of the ethanol industry has made a significant impact of the profitability of Greving Farms and has allowed us to be a producer of feed, fuel and food in a synergistic system. There is no rational reason to lower the amount of ethanol in the RFS,” said Bill Greving of Prairie View.