Former Sen. Tom Daschle meets with Farmers Union members in Washington
HURON, S.D. — It’s a critical time for the ethanol industry said former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle on Sept. 9 when he met with more than 300 farmers, ranchers and agriculture supporters in Washington, D.C., as part of the National Farmers Union Fly-In.
“It’s a critical time, not only for agriculture, but for rural America,” said Daschle, calling hardship waivers granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oil refineries, including Exxon Mobile and Chevron (85 since 2016) as “the most devastating thing to happen to ethanol in the last 40 years.”
When oil refineries receive EPA Small Refinery Exemption (SREs) also referred to as hardship waivers, they are no longer required to comply with renewable fuel blend laws put in place by the Renewable Fuels Standard – eliminating their need to blend ethanol and other renewable fuels.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher, we have 276 million light utility vehicles on the road… emitting over 1 billion tons of carbon,” said Daschle, a longtime ethanol advocate. “For the last 40 years we have been able to make a case that ethanol is a national security issue, a jobs issue, an ag issue and is, darn right, an environmental issue.”
The solution, Daschle said is found in opening the market to higher ethanol blends. “There is absolutely no better solution in doing exactly that, than E30,” said Daschle of the high-octane, low-carbon renewable fuel. “The path forward involves, remaining determined to reduce all regulatory barriers that exist, to allow ethanol to play in the free market – to allow it to do what it is meant to do. Doug Sombke and South Dakota Farmers Union have been strong advocates for this.”
Recognizing the road forward will not be an easy one, Daschle encouraged farmers to have resilience, and to continue to engage with Congressional leaders, like Farmers Union members are doing this week during the Fly-In. “I talk to frustrated people who throw up their hands and say they don’t want anything to do with Washington or politics. But we need to be more engaged than ever. Someone once said, “difficulty is an excuse that history never accepts,’” Daschle said. “We are sure at a difficult time. But that can’t be a reason for giving up.”