RFA responds to Trump’s State of the Union address

By Erin Voegele | January 31, 2018

The Renewable Fuels Association has responded to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 30 State of the Union address. Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA, discussed how ethanol can benefit infrastructure, free trade and the economy.

Trump made little mention of energy during the SOTU, and made no mention of ethanol or other biofuels. He did, however, comment on a wide variety of other topics, including infrastructure, free trade and the economy.

During his speech, Trump said it’s “time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure,” and called on congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments and streamline the permitting and approval process.

In his reaction, Dinneen called ethanol the cleanest, cheapest and highest octane fuel available today, but stressed that too many consumers are being denied access to higher level ethanol blends because marketers lack the resources to modernize the infrastructure used to produce and distribute these fuels. He also cited antiquated regulations prohibiting year-round use of higher ethanol blends, like E15, as part of the problem. “We hope Congress and the administration will work together to provide continued funding for USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership program,” he said. “Most importantly, we will continue to engage EPA to revise volatility regulations that prohibit E15 and higher ethanol blends from being sold year-round when there’s no environmental or consumer benefit to limiting its access.”

Regarding trade, Trump said America has “finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth. The era of economic surrender is over.” Trump said his administration expects “trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal. We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.” He also said his administration “will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”

Dinneen said that U.S.-produced corn ethanol is the least expensive, highest octane source on the plant, noting that there are export opportunities for U.S. ethanol. “We appreciate the President’s America First focus,” he said. “Indeed, last year the U.S. exported a record 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol to more than 60 countries. Increasingly, however, our exports are being met with tariff and non-tariff barriers that reduce U.S. market opportunities, while harming foreign consumers. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to reduce those barriers and create a free, fair and global market for ethanol.”

Trump also spoke about recently enacted tax cuts and reforms, noting that the “tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.” He also claimed that his administration has eliminated more regulations in its first year than any administration in history.

“The President spoke glowingly about an economy benefitting from lower taxes and a reduced regulatory burden,” Dinneen said. “These benefits, while impressive, are not necessarily touching every American. Farmers today are having to sell their commodities below the cost of production, making value-added products like ethanol that much more important. The president has been a steadfast proponent of ethanol in general and the Renewable Fuel Standard in specific. With his continued support and action by EPA to lift antiquated volatility restrictions for E15 and higher level ethanol blends, we will move more renewable fuels across the country, continuing to revitalize rural America as well.”