S.D. Farmers Union: EPA’s renewable fuels reform could be bad for state | TSLN.com

S.D. Farmers Union: EPA’s renewable fuels reform could be bad for state

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuels Standard Reform Act released yesterday could have a negative impact on South Dakota's farmers, rural communities and ethanol industry if the recommendations become law, said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.

In the report, the EPA recommended an end to ethanol subsidies, which are included as part of the current Renewable Fuels Standard.

"Our South Dakota's farmers and rural communities have benefited greatly from what has been a thriving ethanol industry in our state," Sombke explained. "Especially today, with commodity prices as low as they are, the ability to market corn to local ethanol plants has increased our price per bushel by at least 10 cents. Not to mention the economic impact the ethanol industry has throughout our state."

Sombke refers to the approximately 1,900 South Dakotans employed by the industry who earn, on average, about $60,000 each year. A 2012 study conducted by the South Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, noted an annual economic impact of about $3.8 billion statewide. Nationally, South Dakota ranks sixth in ethanol production.

"Ethanol has become a part of the fabric of many rural communities; if they take ethanol subsidies away, it will hurt schools, jobs and not to mention the price of corn. For the EPA to suggest removing subsidies from a clean burning fuel baffles me. Why aren't they also suggesting that Big Oil lose its subsidies?" Sombke asked.

Sombke's comments echo that of Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union.

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Following the EPA's Feb. 4, 2015 recommendations to eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate for biofuel production and restrict overall volume targets; Johnson said, "The elimination of the corn-based ethanol mandate and blend cap will gut the nation's biofuel production, strand existing investment in second generation biofuel production and hurt family farmers, ranchers and rural communities that have experienced much-needed reinvestment from this policy. This is not only a bad step for agriculture, but also is a major setback to the environment and our nation's attempts to manage its carbon emissions. We urge Congress to reject this policy and continue to embrace the vision of a robust renewable fuels industry as a component of this nation's overall energy portfolio."

–S.D. Farmers Union