Letter to the Editor | EPA should back biofuels, farmers

Letter to the Editor | EPA should back biofuels, farmers

For the past five years, the rural economy has faced a sharp plunge in farm income, something President Donald Trump wants to see corrected.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt did not share this same vision. He put oil companies first, attacking biofuels made from farm crops at every turn.

Now there's a new leader at the EPA, and Illinois lawmakers must make certain he does not fall into the same patterns when it comes to enforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS allows millions of farmers in states like Illinois to sell surplus agricultural production to U.S. ethanol plants.

As a result, homegrown biofuels help lower the cost of gas at the pump and shield consumers against manipulation of the global oil market, which is essential with gas prices hovering around $2.90 per gallon.

Some policymakers get it. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Trump have both offered support for the RFS. They also want the EPA to lift summertime restrictions that prohibit many drivers from accessing lower-cost biofuel blends like E15 during the summer driving season, when fuel prices peak.

Illinois lawmakers, including our own Rep. John Shimkus, should make it clear that refiner-backed efforts to hold back competition from farm-based biofuels will no longer be tolerated. The EPA must enforce the RFS, as written, without delays, loopholes, waivers or sunsets.