I'm writing in response to the Oct. 16 op-ed by Bernard Weinstein, the associate director of an oil-backed think tank. We have all seen commentary from out-of-state special interests about the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and biofuels--but it's important that our leaders listen to those of us in rural Wisconsin who are hardest hit by the oil industry’s attacks on our local economies. Despite some of the misleading claims that are circulating, the reality is that farmers and the biofuels industry are paying a steep price for regulatory handouts to petroleum refineries.
These "small" refinery exemptions have been granted by the dozen to refineries that are not so small, including those run by giant oil corporations such as Chevron and Exxon. Each one undermines demand for ethanol at the expense of rural communities. That’s why President Trump’s recent announcement that his administration will uphold the RFS was welcome news. Ensuring that blending targets are reached would provide needed certainty to more than 20,000 Wisconsin farm families and an industry that generates over $4 billion in economic activity.
Now is not the time to let up. The Environmental Protection Agency must not be allowed to roll back President Trump’s commitment by discounting the fix promised to rural families, as the agency proposed Oct. 15. It’s time to finally address the pain these handouts have created for rural America and put biofuels back to work for our economy. Any delays will simply make it harder to repair the damage.