King in Sheldon

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) talks with Dudley and Carol McDowell after his ag town hall in Sheldon on Monday, Feb. 17.

SHELDON—U.S. Rep. Steve King wants to use his ties to the White House to get something done about renewable fuels.

King, a Republican congressman who represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, which includes N’West Iowa, addressed this concern during an agricultural town hall at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon on Monday morning.

The renewables industry had a challenging 2019, which was compounded on Dec. 19 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its renewable volume obligation, which fell below the expected threshold of 15 billion gallons as stipulated by the Renewable Fuel Standard.

King and many other renewable supporters said the rule released by EPA director Andrew Wheeler and staff is written so that it does not necessarily reflect the agreement industry representatives thought they reached with President Donald Trump on Sept. 12.

“He’s a little bit famous for that,” King said of Wheeler. “He’s the one person in government that when I talk to him, I walk away from that meeting and I never gain any sense of I’ve gained any ground or lost any ground; he listens, he makes a comment and it’s so neutral you can’t weigh in and wrote a rule that’s about like that too.”

The limbo status renewables go through each year has stunted the industry’s growth, according to King.

“We are producing 15 billion gallons a year and we can do more, but, essentially we stopped building out our expansion because of what’s happening in politics,” he said.

King noted lobbyists for the petroleum industry have gained more influence in the U.S. House of Representatives and some Democrats in the body of Congress have turned against ethanol because they question its effectiveness at lowering emissions.

Because of that, King’s afraid the industry could lose ground if the issue goes to the House floor.

“Instead, I work this thing through the president and the White House,” he said. “I’ve been to the White House to bring this up several times, with the president, of course.”

As far as the RFS, King said he is crafting a letter to send to Trump when the congressional session resumes and he is circulating it among other ethanol supporters so that they also may sign it.

In the letter, King is going to ask Trump to support ethanol in a public statement or send one of his “famous tweets” that notes the RFS will result in 15 billion gallons.