Congressional candidate Mac Schneider has joined a bipartisan call for the EPA and it’s embattled Administrator Scott Pruitt to cease the issuing of “hardship waivers” on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Schneider joins Senator Heidi Heitkamp and other farm-state Senators from both parties. Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson of Minnesota has also issued his own call to the White House. Yet, North Dakota Republicans John Hoeven, Kevin Cramer, Doug Burgum, and Kelly Armstrong remain silent. Why?
Trade groups for farmers believe the accelerated use of these waivers has already exempted 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol according to an article in the Star Tribune. In his press release, Schneider points to local figures. According to the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the ethanol industry contributes more than $300 million annually to North Dakota’s economy and supports more than 10,000 jobs.
With such a large impact on North Dakota, I’m curious why ND xPlains is the only platform covering this? More importantly, why in the world aren’t North Dakota’s Republican candidates and officeholders joining bipartisan efforts to support family farmers? I wrote why I believe they remain silent earlier this week.
The bipartisan letter signed by farm-state Senators, including Heitkamp but not Hoeven, lays out clearly why the abuse in waivers need to stop. Simply, they’re outside the bounds or the spirit of the law. For farmers, they can’t come at a worse time.
These waivers fall well outside the bounds of the letter or spirit of this provision in the law, which sought to provide flexibility for the smallest of U.S. refiners, and only in cases of genuine hardship. Worse, EPA’s actions are already hurting biofuel producers and farmers across the United States at a time when farm income is at the lowest levels since 2006 and retaliatory trade measures from China threaten to deepen the crisis. – Bipartisan letter sent to EPA
I’ve made it clear I believe these North Dakota Republican officials have remained silent. Perhaps they care more about the oil industry’s political support than having the backs of family farmers. Pointing that out doesn’t make me anti-oil regardless of how desperately others will try and label it. Until they come out and take a stand and explain why they believe these waivers are good and appropriate or a threat to family farmers planting corn I’ll continue to follow up on this. I challenge other media in North Dakota to do the same.
As for family farmers, they should be asking their trade groups how to have a bigger influence and then contact their elected officials and candidates. Finally, they should ask themselves if they want someone who will have their back in good times and hard times when they go to the ballot in November.