Trump’s Plan to Back Oil Companies Would Hurt Rural Jobs and the People Who Voted for Him

Linley Sanders

President Donald Trump's proposed cuts in biofuels will hurt American farmers and create a "cannibalistic" battle between Middle American farmers and Big Oil, say four Republican governors in states that backed Trump in the 2016 election.

The proposal by Trump's Environmental Protection Agency would allow fuel producers to use less corn, soybean and other agricultural biomass in gasoline and other fuels. The rule change is pushed by large oil companies, which oppose a decade-old rule mandating a set amount of biofuels be included in gasoline and diesel, reported Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

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The four Midwestern Republicans hit back on Monday, telling Trump that reducing the renewable fuel standard is  "backwards" and will create a "cannibalistic, zero-sum scenario" that hurts the farmers who helped elect Trump. Governors Sam Brownback of Kansas, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Eric Greitens of Missouri and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota said the EPA proposal has already driven down crop prices in their states and cost farmers "precious earnings" and "critically needed" revenue.

"Cutting the biomass…volume…is not only unnecessary, it’s highly disruptive, unprecedented and potentially catastrophic," the statement said.

Worse, any reduction in America's commitment to renewable fuels could spark a trade war with Canada and other partners, they added, pointedly noting that not "even under the Obama Administration" were such drastic cuts taken.

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Big Soybean also weighed in on the EPA proposal, saying cuts to renewables would "endanger the livelihood" of 64,000 American workers by reducing demand for soy and corn crops that are used in creating alternative fuels. 

"This action would be a betrayal of farmers by EPA, and would break the promises made by the President…on the campaign trail,” American Soybean Association President Ron Moore said in a statement. Moore's group donates tens of thousands of dollars to Republican politicians each election cycle through its political action committee. 

Trump handily won Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota by more than nine percentage points in the 2016 election.

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Another opponent of the EPA, the National Biodiesel Board, specifically called out the Trump administration for betraying workers who "were promised that this administration had their back.” The organization's political action committee even created a campaign-style ad that opens with Trump telling voters at a rally that he will "protect the renewable fuel standard." Later, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is shown on the Senate floor condemning the proposal as a "terrible plan" and "not the way to make America strong again."

Grassley is expected to meet with EPA director Scott Pruitt on Tuesday. 

Supporters of the EPA change say it could lead to lower food prices, end the government practice of choosing one fuel over another, and free up the market to find alternative energy sources.

The EPA is required to publish the proposed changes during an open comment period. Feedback on the Trump Administration's proposal is due online by October 19. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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