Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – MN), a candidate for President, has come out against refinery waivers on the ethanol rules. This is an intensifying fight between the agribusiness and the oil industry lobbies, and Klobucher has sided with the former.
Chemically, “ethanol” is simply drinking alcohol. But the term “ethanol” is used when the compound is taken from the starch in corn and used as a clean fuel, or as an additive to other fossil-based fuels. Most cars in use in the U.S. today can run on a mixture with up to 10% ethanol.
Under a system administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, oil refineries are required either to blend their crude with biofuels, most typically ethanol, in the process of creating gasoline, or to purchase credits from other refiners who do the blending. But the system also allows the EPA to waive the requirement for smaller refineries if compliance would cause significant financial strain.
The gasoline industry has been pushing for a more extensive use of such waivers, and agribusiness has been pushing back, seeking to have the requirements applied across the board.
The Thing to Know:
The first nominating contest between the candidates for President is the Iowa caucus, which in this cycle will take place on February 3, 2020. More than half of Iowa’s corn crop becomes ethanol fuel. Klobuchar’s jaundiced view of the refinery waiver must be understood in that context.