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Voters disappointed by “broken promises” on RFS

TAGS: Farm Policy
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New survey says voters want Trump to deliver on his pledge to protect Renewable Fuel Standard.

New polling shows that voters across three Midwest states are disappointed with Trump Administration decisions they view as broken promises of support for local agriculture and renewable fuels industries.

Voters surveyed in Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota overwhelmingly say they support federal policies to encourage growth in biodiesel and renewable fuels use. Their support cut across party lines, with more than two-thirds of Republicans and nearly three-quarters of Independents saying they support U.S. efforts to boost the expansion of the biodiesel industry. In total, 73% of voters agreed. 

In the 2016 election, then-candidate Donald Trump’s performance in the three states surveyed demonstrated strong support for his public statements that he would support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires minimal volumes of biodiesel and other advanced biofuels be included in the nation’s transportation fuels portfolio. A substantial majority of voters in these Midwest states, including 63% of Independents, say EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s efforts to lower demand for biofuels does not reflect the President’s promise to support renewable fuels and the RFS.

Farm communities helped elect Trump

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) vice president of federal affairs Kurt Kovarik says the response from Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota accurately represents the opinion of America’s Heartland, which propelled President Trump to the White House. NBB sponsored the survey. 

In one such instance of his promises, then-candidate Trump addressed the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in January 2016: “The RFS… is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States. I will do all that is in my power as president to achieve that goal.”

More than 80% of Republican voters in the survey say it is important to them that President Trump keep his promise to defend the RFS. “When candidate Trump promised he would be their defender in Washington, D.C., farming communities turned out to the polls in big numbers for him in November of 2016,” notes Kovarik. “To be frank, rural voters haven’t seen that similar support reciprocated from EPA Administrator Pruitt and that’s reflected in the survey. 

Granting of RFS waivers bothers voters

After years of steady growth in the biodiesel industry, President Trump’s administration changed gears for 2018. For the first time, the biomass-based diesel category volumes of the RFS remained flat at 2.1 billion gallons. The advanced biofuels category, for which biodiesel also qualifies, was reduced. 

Beyond the lack of growth in the RFS, President Trump’s EPA has provided numerous exemptions for refiners, including one of the largest in the U.S., that excuse them from fulfilling their obligations to blend biofuels at their facilities. There are also reported discussions in the White House of other measures that would have a damaging effect on the RFS, including allowing exported biofuels to generate credits toward refiners’ obligations under the RFS.

Trade issues also an increasing concern

Additionally, farmers have seen the commodity prices of their crops plummet as a result of trade fights with China, and just saw the new Farm Bill fail in Congress.

“Midwest voters are desperate to see some positive signal from President Trump and Congress,” says Kovarik. “Income from farming has plummeted more than 50%. It’s at its lowest point in a dozen years. Zero growth again in the RFS from the Trump Administration would only make it worse.”

Around 50% of biodiesel is produced from soybean oil, a byproduct of processing the beans for protein in food products. This system has provided another source of income for soybean farmers and the added value means they’re able to make the protein available at lower prices. Additionally, biodiesel is made from recycled cooking oil and waste fats.

Other conclusions from the survey:

  • Of conservative voters surveyed in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, 67% support higher biodiesel volumes under the RFS.
  • More than 55% of Independent voters in Iowa, the nation’s top biodiesel producing state, support higher biodiesel volumes under the RFS. President Trump in 2016 was the first Republican to top 50% in a presidential election in nearly 30 years.

The survey was conducted by Moore Information with funding from the National Biodiesel Board. Moore Information is a leading national opinion research and strategic analysis firm, serving a wide spectrum of clients in politics, government and corporate and public affairs. The survey was comprised of 1,660 total randomly selected registered voters (Iowa 510, Minnesota 580, Missouri 570).

Source: National Biodiesel Board

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