Election 2020

Trump Orders Another Handout For Farmers

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Oil refiners are required by federal law to blend a certain amount of ethanol into gasoline each year but they're eligible for waivers if purchasing ethanol from farmers would be too financially burdensome.

A federal court ruled earlier this year that the Trump regime granted too many waivers in recent years and, to that end, the oil industry has been lobbying the regime to retroactively approve new waivers to save them from facing a fiscal cliff, but Trump has just shot their request down.

Reuters reports that there won't be any new waivers because of Republican political concerns, not because it's necessarily a good policy.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has instructed that dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive waivers from U.S. biofuel laws be denied amid concerns the issue could cut into his support in the Farm Belt, three sources familiar with the decision said. [...]

In Iowa the federal administration’s expansion of the waiver program has complicated Republican Senator Joni Ernst’s reelection bid.

In recent weeks, Iowa officials argued that without action, Ernst - and perhaps Trump - could be in trouble come November.

Ernst has been a staunch defender of Trump but has been working behind the scenes to argue that his administration should deny the pending retroactive waivers, according to one of the people familiar with Trump’s direction to the EPA.

I don't necessarily want to defend oil refiners, but this is not a decision that should be made just because Republican are afraid they're going to lose control of the Senate.

Moreover, farmers have already received every possible break and bailout the Trump regime can legally throw at them. They've been bailed out by Trump three times and by Congress at least once and that's if you don't even count the generous subsidies included in the annual farm bill.

Forcing oil refiners to buy largely corn-based ethanol from farmers may have made some kind of sense in 2007 when the law was originally passed (hindsight tells us it probably didn't make much sense back then either) but it definitely does not in 2020.

Higher blends of ethanol contribute more smog to cities than regular gasoline alone which is why high blends are typically restricted during the summer when more cars are on the road. Blending more ethanol doesn't make filing up your gas tank any cheaper and even the idea of putting gasoline in a car is on its way toward being a thing of the past. And we should be eating or exporting the food we grow, not burning it.

Trump's trade war has shrank the export market for American farmers, of course, and this probably wouldn't be happening if he never started a trade war.

We need actual energy policy reform, not an ongoing battle between two political constituencies.

  • Draxiar

    Come see the Trade War-rior face The Covid Crusher in a CAGE MATCH!

    I find it intriguing to see two messes of trump’s making squaring off against each other.

  • muselet

    Using corn as a feedstock for ethanol is uneconomical (corn is too expensive to grow for ethanol production ever to be sensible), but there are some Electoral College votes to be had from the Corn Belt, which is why there’s an ethanol mandate in the first place (well, and ethanol is less toxic than other oxygenates, like MTBE, when it inevitably leaks out of storage tanks and gets into groundwater). Bioethanol from corn is a boondoggle.

    Donald Trump will perpetuate that boondoggle because he’s afraid he’ll lose the votes of a few too many farmers to Joe Biden. Because of course he will.

    –alopecia