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Congresswoman Axne says EPA ‘bait and switch’ on RFS unacceptable

Industry officials say up to 400 jobs in Iowa biofuels plants are at stake if the EPA’s proposed standards for blending ethanol and biodiesel into motor fuel are adopted.

Four plants in Iowa have temporarily shut down. Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne warns more may follow if the EPA fails to implement the deal President Trump promised the biodiesel industry earlier this month.

“This bait and switch is not good for us,” Axne says.

Iowa Republicans like Governor Kim Reynolds and Joni Ernst have urged Iowa farmers to submit public comments to the EPA to pressure a chance in policy. Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, along with the other two Democrats in Iowa’s congressional delegation are accusing the Trump Administration of doing “big oil’s” bidding.

“Once again, we’re seeing a situation where the president and this administration came to Iowa, pledged their support for farmers and then went back to Washington to give hand-outs to big oil lobbyists,” Axne says, “at the expense of hard-working Iowa families and our rural communities.”

And Axne says she doesn’t buy the argument the E-P-A has gone rogue and is proposing policy contrary to President Trump’s wishes.

“The EPA answers to the president, not the other way around,” Axne says. “Enough fancy press conference and broken promises from this president. Iowa farmers deserve action from this administration. The buck stops with him.”

The Iowa Corn Growers Association warns of an increase in farm bankruptcies as the finances of thousands of farmers who invested in ethanol plants are in jeopardy. Other farmers who’ve been selling their grain to biofuels plants are now struggling to find other buyers. Livestock producers who’ve used dried distiller’s grain — the high-protein byproduct of ethanol production — are forced to buy higher-priced feed.

(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

High school volleyball tournaments

Oskaloosa’s volleyball team plays in the Little Hawkeye Conference tournament Thursday (10/17) at Pella.  The Indians are the third seed and will face Pella Christian, Newton and Indianola in pool play.  The other pool features Dallas Center-Grimes, Pella, Norwalk and Grinnell.  Action starts at 4:30 this afternoon at Pella High School.

The South Iowa Cedar League finishes its conference volleyball tournament Thursday.  In the gold division, Lynnville-Sully hosts Iowa Valley at 5, then North Mahaska takes on Belle Plaine with the two winners facing off afterwards.  In the silver division at HLV, Sigourney plays HLV at 5, followed by Montezuma against Colfax-Mingo, with the two winners playing for the silver division title afterwards.

Other high school volleyball Thursday, Ottumwa plays in the CIML Metro conference tournament at Des Moines Lincoln, EBF is at Mediapolis and Knoxville hosts Winterset.

Powerful Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings has died

By BRIAN WITTE and REGINA GARCIA CANO

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68.

Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district , which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore and more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said.

On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted his “condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader.” The brief tweet made no reference to past feuds.

Cummings’ long career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.

Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008. By 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He believed in much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle-exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS.

A key figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry , Cummings had been hoping to return to Congress after a medical procedure he said would only keep him away for a week. His statement then didn’t detail the procedure. He’d previously been treated for heart and knee issues.

Cummings’ committee, authorized to investigate virtually any part of the federal government, is one of three conducting the House impeachment probe of Trump. Cummings was among the three chairmen to sign a letter seeking documents into the formal inquiry into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the family of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, the former vice president. The committees have issued subpoenas of witnesses in the face of the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe and have jointly been meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a veteran House Democrat from New York, will for now take over leadership of the House oversight committee, according to a senior Democratic leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to discuss the decision publicly.

Separately, Cummings led an effort to gain access to Trump’s financial records. His committee subpoenaed records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that has provided services to Trump. The panel demanded documents from 2011 to 2018 as it probed Trump’s reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled the records must be turned over to the House.

Shortly after Cummings’ death, which his office said happened after 2 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital, his constituents began mourning. Baltimore mayor Bernard “Jack” Young said in a statement that Cummings “wasn’t afraid to use his considerable intellect, booming voice and poetic oratory to speak out against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President.”

His widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic Party, said in a statement: “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

Cummings was born Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become the first black House speaker pro tem. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.

Cummings began his long push for civil rights at age 11, when he helped integrate a local swimming pool in Baltimore. This year, during a speech to the American Bar Association in April, Cummings recalled how he and other black children who were barred from the pool organized protests with help from their recreation leader and the NAACP.

Every day for a week, when the children tried to get into the pool, they were spit upon, threatened and called names, Cummings said; he said he was cut by a bottle thrown from an angry crowd.

“The experience transformed my entire life,” he said.

While serving in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983 to 1996, Cummings pushed for a ban on alcohol and tobacco ads on inner-city billboards in Baltimore, leading to the first such prohibition in a large U.S. city.

Cummings then chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had given Maryland its first black congressman in 1970 when Parren Mitchell was elected.

In 2015, when the death of black Baltimore resident Freddie Gray sparked the worst riots the city had seen in decades, Cummings was in the streets, carrying a bullhorn and urging crowds to go home and respect a curfew. He spoke at Gray’s funeral, asking lawmakers in the church to stand up to show Gray’s mother they would seek justice.

“I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want,” Cummings said, quoting from the Bible.

___

Witte reported from Annapolis. Alan Fram contributed from Washington.

Gregg supports new Iowa Speaker Grassley

Last week, Iowa House Republicans chose Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford to take over as Speaker of the House next year. He will succeed Speaker Linda Upmeyer, who stepped down as Speaker and says she will not run for re-election next year.  Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg says he looks forward to working with Speaker-Select Grassley.

“Representative Grassley, I believe, will do an outstanding job.  He’s somebody who also has a passion for rural Iowa, just as Governor Reynolds and I do and I look forward to working with him.”

Gregg spoke last week after touring Tassel Ridge Winery outside Oskaloosa.

Worried about flying on a 737 Max? Your options may be few

By DAVID KOENIG

DALLAS (AP) — At some point early next year, air travelers will need to decide if they’re willing to take a flight on a Boeing 737 Max.

If they’re not, they’ll need to find out what their travel options are.

There will be no government-ordered compensation in North America or Europe for travelers who are afraid to get on the plane that has crashed twice, killing 346 people. Not after aviation regulators deem the Max safe.

However, airlines are likely to be more flexible in letting passengers change their schedules to avoid flying on a Max, at least for a while.

“We will take care of customers who are not comfortable flying on the Max. We will rebook them,” said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein. The airline won’t charge those passengers the standard $200 fee for changing a ticket, he said.

Also, while they will be willing to rebook passengers free of charge for a while, that doesn’t mean that American, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — the three U.S. carriers that fly the Max — can get you on the next flight. They are under no obligation to find a seat for you on another carrier, or to pay for a hotel room if they don’t have an available seat until the next day.

“If passengers go to the airport and decide not to fly because the flight is going to be operated by a Max, they will not be able to get compensation because it will be their own decision to cancel their trip, it will not be the decision of the airline,” said Chrystel Erotokritou, who tracks compensation for AirHelp, a company that offers to help passengers with airline-service problems.

And if the airline offers to put the customer on a flight three days later, “there isn’t much the passenger can do,” Erotokritou said. “Either they fly with the Max or they cancel their trip, because when the (Max) comes back into service, it will mean that the aviation authorities in the U.S. and the E.U. now consider this aircraft to be perfectly safe.”

It is safe to assume that most airline passengers have no idea what model of plane they are booked on, or whether it is a Boeing, an Airbus, or something else. Even after they board the plane.

American, Southwest and United Airlines, the three U.S. carriers that own Max jets, display the type of plane for every flight on their online schedules.

If that happens, consumer advocates say passengers should talk to the gate agent immediately.

“You should indicate that you’re fearful of this plane and it would be better for everybody if they allow you to take another flight or give you a credit or a refund,” said Paul Hudson, the president of FlyersRights.org, an advocacy group that sprung from protests over long ground delays during which passengers were trapped on planes. “You don’t want a flyer who is panicked and causing problems on the flight.”

Aware of this situation, American and United say they will not use the Max as a last-minute substitute for other planes, although it’s not clear how long they will stick to that policy.

Gary Leff, who writes a popular travel blog called View from the Wing, thinks airlines will have to notify passengers waiting for the plane if a substitution means their flight will use a Max.

“I think there will be announcements — people will know they are getting on a Max, especially in the case of an aircraft substitution,” Leff said. Airline officials, he said, “don’t want customers freaking out after pushback (from the gate) or after takeoff.”

American, Southwest and United said they are still finishing details for the return of the Max and how to communicate with customers. When the time comes, they will stress that the plane will have been certified as safe by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tony Roach, Southwest’s managing director of customer experience, said the airline will highlight the software upgrades and additional pilot training that will be required before the Max is recertified. United spokesman Frank Benenati said the airline “will be transparent — and communicate in advance — with our customers who are booked to fly on a Max.” Feinstein, the American spokesman, said his airline’s pilots will assure customers that the plane is safe.

Of course, there is one fail-safe strategy for travelers who are determined to avoid the Boeing plane: “If you really want to be absolutely sure, you can fly on an airline that doesn’t have any MAXes,” said Hudson, the passenger advocate.

Delta Air Lines is the largest U.S. carrier that has never used the Max, and its CEO said last week Delta benefitted over the summer from the thousands of Max-related cancellations at Southwest, American and United.

It is still unclear when the Max will fly again. Boeing began working on updating the plane’s flight software shortly after the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air jet off the coast of Indonesia. When the plane was grounded after the second crash — an Ethiopian Airlines Max went down near Addis Ababa after takeoff on March 10 — Boeing was optimistic that it could complete the software work in a few weeks.

That work stretched out over three months, then FAA test pilots found another problem in which computers on the plane could fail. Boeing is still working to correct that issue.

___

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

Indians officially LHC volleyball co-champs

Oskaloosa will share the Little Hawkeye Conference volleyball championship.  Dallas Center-Grimes and Indianola both won their matches on Tuesday (10/15), which ties them for first place with the Indians at 6-1. The Indians will be back in action Thursday night (10/17) at the Little Hawkeye Conference tournament at Pella High School.

Tuesday night in high school volleyball, EBF defeated Chariton three sets to none, Des Moines Roosevelt swept Ottumwa, Pella swept Grinnell, Indianola swept Newton and Dallas Center-Grimes defeated Norwalk 3-1.

‘Outrage’ in Iowa biofuels industry over proposed EPA blending rules

BY 

Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industry reacted in disbelief and anger today after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft policy on future biofuels production targets.

The president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association was first to react, saying he was outraged the EPA failed to implement the details of a plan President Trump announced 11 days ago. Trump’s outline suggested oil refineries would be forced to blend more ethanol in gasoline next year, to make up for the ethanol blending waivers granted this year. The Iowa Corn Growers’ leader said the EPA’s document fell “well short” of that mark.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association blasted the EPA for reneging on Trump’s biofuels deal. The Iowa Biodiesel Board said the EPA’s plan did not restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard, as Trump had promised.

The EPA, in issuing its announcement, included comments from Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as well as Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg — all Republicans — all of whom the EPA quoted praising the proposal.

Reynolds, in a separate written statement late this afternoon released by her own office, said she understands the industry’s frustration and distrust — and Reynolds suggested farmers need to make their voices heard during the 30 day period for public comment on the EPA’s plan.

A coalition of biofuels groups will hold a news conference Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to respond to the EPA’s announcement. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, was the first member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to speak individually on today’s news. He called the EPA’s proposed policy “outrageous” because it provides no guarantee the ethanol and biodiesel production mandates will ever be restored. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat form Des Moines, called it a broken promise from the president that’s “insulting, deeply disappointing, but unfortunately, not surprising.” Congresswoman Abby Finkenaur, a Democrat from Dubuque, said once again Iowa farmers are being let down by a president who “plays favorites with big oil.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign was the first in the Democratic presidential field to weigh in, issuing a statement on what it referred to as “the Trump Administration’s continued sabotage of Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar accused Trump of being more interested in his “big oil buddies” than in the plight of farmers. She will visit the shuttered biodiesel plant in Crawfordsville on Friday.

Read the series of news releases related to this story below.

EPA Continues to Undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard
Statement from ICGA President Jim Greif

Today, we are outraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not implement the details that were presented and outlined by the President only eleven days ago. Any proposal that does not account for actual waived gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) fails to restore the integrity of the law. Last week President Trump promised to uphold the Congressional intent of the RFS by addressing the demand destruction brought on by expanded use of small refinery exemptions and prospectively account for those exemptions using a three-year rolling average of actual waived gallons, beginning with the 2020 biofuel standard. Today’s announcement falls well short of that mark, only accounting for the Department of Energy recommendations that the EPA itself ignored.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) will continue to fight back on demand destruction with our biofuels champions and President Trump to ensure the final 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) reflect the commitments made by the President to restore the integrity of the RFS to the benefit of farmers and consumers everywhere.

EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal

The supplemental rule proposed by EPA fails to ensure RFS integrity

JOHNSTON, IOWA – Today, following up on the recently announced Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) ‘deal,’ EPA released the draft rule intended to fulfill President Trump’s commitment to ensure RFS blend levels are met by reallocating gallons waived by small refinery exemptions (SREs) back into the RFS. While President Donald Trump’s biofuels deal would have ensured that a 15-billion-gallon RFS truly meant 15 billion gallons blended, today’s proposal fails to live up to President Trump’s promise to biofuels producers.

Prior to supporting President Trump’s October 4th deal, biofuels producers and farmers were briefed by the White House and EPA that EPA would account for SREs using a three-year rolling average of actual refinery exemptions granted. Today’s draft rule proposes using a three-year rolling average of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommendations for SREs, which EPA has routinely ignored and is under no legal obligation to follow.

In response to this proposal, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“IRFA members continue to stand by President Trump’s strong biofuels deal announced on Oct. 4, which was worked out with our elected champions and provided the necessary certainty that 15 billion gallons would mean 15 billion gallons, even after accounting for SREs. Unfortunately, only 11 days after President Trump’s landmark announcement, the EPA proposal reneges on the core principal of the deal.

“Instead of standing by President Trump’s transparent and accountable deal, EPA is proposing to use heretofore secret DOE recommendations that EPA doesn’t have to follow. That means there is no guarantee that RFS exemptions will be accounted for in the RFS.

“Instead, the proposal today essentially asks Iowa farmers and biofuels producers to trust that EPA will do the right thing on SREs in 2021 when they have spent the last two years weaponizing SREs to unfairly undermine the RFS. It is unreasonable and counterproductive to expect Iowans to put their faith in EPA to fix the SRE problem when they were the ones who created the crisis in the first place.

“As this proposal goes against the core of President Trump’s deal that we continue to support, we will work with our elected champions and the President to get the deal he proposed, and we all celebrated, back on track. There must be certainty that 15 billion gallons will mean 15 billion gallons to restore integrity to the RFS.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 400 million gallons annually.

Iowa biodiesel producers concerned by EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard plan
Small Refinery Exemption accounting may not restore RFS integrity as promised by President
ANKENY, Iowa – The Iowa Biodiesel Board today expressed apprehension over the Trump Administration’s new plans for fulfilling federal renewable fuel requirements, saying it appears to run contrary to a previously agreed-upon deal with President Trump. The group will join other renewable fuel and farm advocates in examining the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed supplemental rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard, released today.

Grant Kimberley, Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Iowa’s biodiesel producers, we are deeply concerned by EPA’s new proposal to address renewable fuel gallons lost through refinery exemptions to the RFS. The solution President Trump previously promised us would have estimated future exempted RFS volumes based on the average of actual volumes exempted over the past three years. That is the remedy we need to steady the renewable fuels market, help plants re-open their doors, and infuse rural economies still in crisis.
“This new plan from EPA appears to be a dramatic departure from the agreement struck with the President, and we expect markets to react accordingly. This is likely to inflict further damage on the already struggling biodiesel industry and farm economy. We will join our Iowa political champions, the National Biodiesel Board and other groups in scrutinizing this new proposal, and in ensuring the final rule fulfills the deal President Trump agreed to earlier this very month.”

Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel made from diverse agricultural byproducts and co-products, such as soybean oil. The Iowa Biodiesel Board is a state trade association representing the biodiesel industry.

EPA Releases Supplemental Proposal for Renewable Fuels Volumes

(Lenexa, Kan., October 15, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional comment on the recently proposed rule to establish the cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

Today’s notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into their fuel or to otherwise obtain renewable identification numbers (RINs) to demonstrate compliance.

Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the Department of Energy (DOE), including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions. The agency intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when adjudicating 2020 exemption petitions. The agency proposes to use this value to adjust the way we calculate renewable fuel percentages. The proposed adjustments would help ensure that the industry blends the final volumes of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel supply and that, in practice, the required volumes are not effectively reduced by future hardship exemptions for small refineries. Consistent with the statute, the supplemental notice seeks to balance the goal of the RFS of maximizing the use of renewables while following the law and sound process to provide relief to small refineries that demonstrate the need.

EPA will hold a public hearing on Oct. 30, 2019 followed by a 30-day comment period from the date of the hearing to receive public input on these issues. The agency will finalize this action later this year.

Today’s action fulfills the agreement reached on Oct. 4, with the White House, EPA, and USDA. Below is the overwhelmingly positive response we received following that announcement:

Cabinet
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: “President Trump’s leadership has led to an agreement that continues to promote domestic ethanol and biodiesel production, supporting our Nation’s farmers and providing greater energy security. Today’s agreement is the latest in a series of steps we have taken to expand domestic energy production and improve the RFS program that will result in sustained biofuel production to help American farmers.”

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue: “President Trump has once again demonstrated that he is a champion for our nation’s farmers and rural America. The President recognizes that American farmers are the most productive in the world, and he has found a way to pursue policy that promotes economic growth and supports our producers. Building on the success of the year-round E15 rule, this forward-looking agreement makes improvements to the RFS program that will better harness the production of our farmers and ensure America remains energy dominant.”

Senate

Senator Joni Ernst (IA): “This is great news for Iowa and rural America. President Trump is following through on his commitment to our nation’s hardworking farmers and biofuels producers. The RFS is essential to the livelihoods of folks across our state, which is why I’ve been fighting tirelessly on behalf of Iowa’s farmers and producers every step of the way and making Iowans’ voices heard throughout this process. Our message was clear: uphold the RFS—15 billion means 15 billion. The president heard that message and has acted on it. The steps outlined today by the administration will help increase demand for our biofuels, provide certainty for farmers and producers for years to come, and ensure that EPA is implementing the RFS as it was written.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (IA): “President Trump listened to the concerns of farmers and biofuels producers and delivered on their behalf… The solution outlined by President Trump, Administrator Wheeler and Secretary Perdue is exactly how the RFS is meant to function according to the law as written by Congress… Maintaining the integrity of the RFS, repealing WOTUS and allowing year-round sales of E15 will all help American agriculture and the rural economy. These are promises made and promises kept by President Trump. President Trump has made clear that he is an ally of corn and soybean farmers as well as ethanol and biodiesel producers. He is fighting for the farmer. This announcement is great news for Iowa, the Midwest and the entire country.”

Senator Deb Fischer (NE): “In my discussions with the president, I fought hard for a fair deal for Nebraska’s farmers and ethanol producer. I thank the president for following through on his commitment to rural America. Today’s announcement means more certainty for families, businesses, and communities across the Good Life.”

Senator Mike Braun (IN): “At my recent townhall meeting in Franklin, Indiana, this issue was top of mind for Hoosier farmers and producers. I worked closely with USDA and the Trump Administration to make sure those concerns were realized here in Washington. This is why I am proud to announce that President Trump kept his promise to Hoosier farmers to ensure the RFS is implanted in a manner consistent with Congressional intent. This agreement to expand domestic energy production is a win for Hoosier farmers, and it comes on the heels of a year-round E-15 decision. Hoosiers will not forget that President Trump is in their corner.”

Governors
Governor Pete Ricketts (NE): “Ensuring RVOs do not go below 15 billion gallons and expanding access to E15 will bolster the RFS and ethanol production at a critical time for our nation’s rural economy, which has been suffering from low commodity prices. Thank you to President Trump for taking these important steps for ethanol and our great farm families!”

Governor Kim Reynolds (IA): “A robust renewable fuel standard is critical to a healthy ag economy in Iowa and across the nation. We are grateful to President Trump for honoring the federal statute to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually, and allowing existing E10 pumps to deliver E15 fuel, helping drive domestic demand for biofuels. By protecting the RFS, President Trump demonstrated his commitment to rural America and the American farmer.

“Today’s announcement is a reflection of the strong, united front from the renewable fuels industry as well as strong leadership from Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. The President clearly heard us when we said 15 billion gallons means 15 billion gallons, and this deal proves it.

“We will never stop fighting for the renewable fuels industry because of its central role in our economy and we appreciate President Trump’s willingness to listen and work with this industry. It is clear, this President remains committed to America’s farmers.”

Governor Doug Burgum (ND): “This agreement strikes a balance for our farmers, ethanol producers and refiners, protecting demand for renewable fuels while still allowing for exemptions for small refineries. We appreciate the administration hearing the concerns of our corn and soybean growers, ethanol producers and other stakeholders and coming up with an agreement that promotes ethanol and biodiesel production, provides market certainty and gives a much-needed boost to our farmers, building on the year-round E15 sales that we pushed for and the president approved earlier this year.”

Governor Kristi Noem (SD): “This is a big win for producers. With expanded ethanol capabilities, producers will see an increased market for their product and improved long-term stability. This move is absolutely critical for South Dakota farmers and ranchers as recent years have seen lower commodity prices and unstable market conditions. Thank you, President Trump, for supporting agriculture.”

Congress

Congressman Roger Marshall (KS-01): “President Trump, Secretary Perdue, and Administrator Wheeler have delivered on their promise to support the renewable fuels industry, make improvements to the RFS program to utilize the production of America’s farmers, and continue America’s energy independence,” U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. said. “The renewable fuel industry is not only good for producers and consumers, but also good for our environment. I applaud the work of the USDA and EPA and look forward to working with the Administration to continue making productive changes to the ethanol and biofuels industry.”

Congressman James Comer (KY-01): “President Trump’s announcement could not have come at a more critical time for farmers and ethanol producers. With the state of the farm economy, any viable market for grain producers is key. I’m proud to support this welcomed news from the Administration, and I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump, Secretary Perdue, Administrator Wheeler, and my colleagues in Congress to see this agreement put into action.” -Congressman James Comer, KY-1

Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06): “Biofuels are a major market for the farmers in my district in North Missouri and today’s announcement is welcome news in what has been a challenging year due to weather,” said Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06). “The Renewable Fuels Standard is critical to the farm economy and the President’s proposal will go a long way towards ensuring that it remains strong. I’m thankful that President Trump has listened to our farmers and I’m grateful for his commitment to our rural economy.”

Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13): “I want to thank the President for working with me to bring parity to farmers in my district, and the ethanol industry as a whole, by addressing the issue of small refinery exemptions. I recently introduced the bipartisan Small Refinery Exemption Fairness Act to address this issue and reobligate gallons lost to these exemptions, and I look forward to seeing the details of this plan that will put us on the right path forward.”

Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12): “This announcement comes at a time when Illinois ethanol producers needed a big win. By maintaining the 15-billion-gallon baseline and increasing access to E15, President Trump has shown he is working for American agriculture. Farmers across Illinois’ 12th District will be pleased with this announcement and the security it provides for the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18): “In Illinois, biofuels drive demand for our corn and soybean farmers, and the announcement by President Trump’s Administration today is a victory for Midwest agriculture and biofuel producers,” stated Rep. LaHood. “This deal ensures that lost gallons from small refinery waivers are accurately accounted and remove barriers to higher biofuel blends. I continually urged this Administration to uphold the original intent of the RFS, and I applaud President Trump and his team for hearing the concerns of Midwest producers and keeping to their promise. I’ll continue to fight for Illinois producers and work with this Administration to bolster our agriculture economy.”

Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02): “Thank you President Trump for working with our farmers and ethanol producers to bring certainty and security to the RFS program. I have long been an advocate for low-carbon biofuels and am hopeful that the finalized rules will unleash ethanol potential, provide transparency for Nebraska farmers and producers, and benefit consumers at the pump across the country.”

Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06): “I am grateful to the Administration for hearing the concerns of the agriculture community and delivering much-needed results. Biofuels are an integral piece of Minnesota’s economy, and the announcement today will help promote cleaner fuel, energy independence, and greater demand for Minnesota corn and soybeans. This is a clear example that the Trump Administration supports agriculture and rural America, and I applaud their efforts to uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Congressman Steve Watkins (KS-02): “For far too long, the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has been severely harmed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) misuse of small refinery exemptions (SREs),” said Congressman Steve Watkins (KS-02). So far, nine producers have closed their doors or reduced operations, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs for rural communities across the country. With today’s announcement from the EPA and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), America’s farmers will appreciate President Trump listening to their concerns and his commitment to scaling back regulations and runaway government overreach.

As a leader on renewable fuels issues and a cosponsor of the Small Refinery Exemption Fairness Act, I am thankful for the commitment that the administration has shown to our rural communities and the renewable fuels industry and applaud their decision. This is just another positive step in moving us closer to restoring the integrity and initial intentions of the RFS.”

Congressman Dusty Johnson (SD-AL): “Today’s announcement is a win for South Dakota farmers, ethanol producers and anyone that cares about a strong rural economy and job growth. I’m proud of the coalition of farm-state members that made it clear that we must maintain the integrity of the RFS as Congress intended.”

By maintaining the integrity of the RFS and preventing the abuse of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs), as well as forward-looking proposals that cut red tape and build biofuel infrastructure, the Administration showed they are committed to rural America.”

State Officials

Lt. Governor Adam Gregg (IA): “Today’s announcement by EPA is welcome news for Iowa farmers and the renewable fuels industry. A strong RFS drives rural prosperity. Thank you to Governor Reynolds, Senator Ernst, and Senator Grassley for your advocacy!”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig: “This is welcome news for Iowa’s farmers and the renewable fuels industry. President Trump listened to our producers’ concerns and took action to address them. This is what happens when farmers, biofuels producers and government leaders work together to make our voices heard. We are grateful to President Trump for directing EPA to uphold the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and we look forward to working with EPA and USDA to implement today’s announcement. As the number one producer of ethanol and biodiesel in the country, Iowa is proud to lead the nation in reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We will continue to work to restore and build demand for these critical markets for Iowa agriculture.”

Stakeholders

Growth Energy: “It’s been a long process, but when the chips were down, President Trump delivered for farm families and biofuel producers. This is a victory for rural America, and we are grateful to our champions in Congress, USDA Secretary Perdue, and governors across the heartland who fought to put homegrown energy back on the market. We also thank President Trump for hearing the voices of farmers and biofuel producers and his commitment to finding a solution that will make an immediate difference for rural families.

“By accurately accounting for lost gallons from this point forward based on a 3-year average of all exempted gallons, beginning with the 2020 biofuel targets, and breaking down regulatory and infrastructure barriers to higher biofuel blends, we will be able to realize the true potential of the opportunities President Trump opened by approving year-round sales of E15. Our industry and farm suppliers are eager to put this plan in place and deliver more lower-cost, lower-carbon biofuels to American consumers. We look forward to finalizing this rule to help America’s farmers.
“To restore growth and revitalize farm income, it’s vital that the EPA stay true to the president’s promise, and we will be working closely with leaders in Washington to ensure that happens. What matters now is how quickly we can restore demand for U.S. farmers and put biofuel gallons back to work for America’s economy.”

Dan Nerud, President of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association: “We’ve been waiting for a reallocation of waived gallons for a long time. To say we were upset with the refinery waivers is an understatement, so today’s announcement is welcome news. We’re very happy with today’s announcement.”

David Bruntz, Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board: “I’m extremely excited with today’s announcement. Today’s news just goes to show what our growers can achieve when our voices are unified. Thanks to all of Nebraska and our nation’s corn farmers who rallied together to ensure we have vibrant corn and ethanol industries for years to come.”

Please see below a statement from Gov. Reynolds on today’s EPA announcement:

“President Trump promised 15 billion gallons of renewable fuel blended per year, and I will work to hold the EPA accountable to ensure that promise is kept. I understand the biofuel industry’s frustration and distrust following the EPA’s announcement today. The next 30 day comment period is crucial to making sure the EPA follows through on the President’s commitment. A robust RFS is critical for rural America, and I will never stop fighting for it.” – Gov. Kim Reynolds

Loebsack Statement on the EPA’s Supplemental SRE Rule

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new supplemental proposed rule to account for gallons waived through Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) in the nation’s biofuel mandate.

“It is outrageous that not even two weeks after the President and the EPA announced a ‘deal’ to offset the excessive number of SREs they granted to big, profitable oil companies, they fall back on their word. This proposed rule provides no assurance that the estimates used to offset the SREs would meet the actual volume of gallons exempted, leaving farmers and biofuel producers with no guarantee that the billions of gallons of biofuels exempted from the mandate would ever be restored, as has long been promised by the Trump Administration and EPA.

“The Administration’s abuse of the SRE program has already destroyed billions of gallons of biofuel demand and led to the closure or idling of nearly 30 ethanol and biodiesel plants. This proposed rule is another in a long string of broken promises for our farmers and biofuel producers. I will continue to fight back against proposals that fall short of what was promised, and work to uphold the integrity of the RFS. It is past time our farmers and biofuel producers have the certainty they need to help provide our nation with clean, renewable fuel.”

AXNE STATEMENT ON EPA’S BROKEN PROMISE
~ Axne calls on Trump to publicly demand the EPA restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) released the following statement on today’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement undermining the Administration’s October 4th promise to ‘restore integrity’ to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

“This is insulting, deeply disappointing, but unfortunately, not surprising. Time and time again, this Administration comes to Iowa and pledges their support for farmers, only to go back to Washington to give hand-outs to big oil lobbyists at the expense of hardworking Iowa families and rural communities,” said Rep. Axne.

“Let’s be clear: the EPA answers to the President, not the other way around. Enough fancy press conferences and broken promises, Iowa farmers deserve action from this Administration. Today, I’m calling on the President to stand by his word and publicly demand the EPA put forth a new rule that ensures 15 billion gallons means 15 billion,” said Rep. Axne.

On October 4th, the Administration announced they would ‘restore integrity’ to the Renewable Fuel Standard by reallocating for all gallons lost due to biofuel waivers. The EPA today announced they would reallocate waived gallons based on recommendations made by the Department of Energy (DOE), which the EPA has consistently ignored. This bait and switch will significantly reduce market demand for ethanol and further risk the livelihood of Iowa farmers and producers.

Biden for President Statement on Donald Trump’s Continued Sabotage of the Renewable Fuel Standard

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, Biden for President released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s continued sabotage of Iowa’s renewable fuel industry:

“The Trump Administration has handed out waivers to oil companies like candy on Halloween – putting the interests of Big Oil and wealthy campaign contributors ahead of Iowa farmers,” said Jake Braun, Iowa State Director, Biden for President. “In the past few months, four Iowa biofuel plants have closed because of these reckless refinery waivers – killing good-paying jobs and throwing even more uncertainty into our agricultural economy. With the EPA’s announcement today, President Trump is demonstrating yet again that farmers can’t take him at his word. The proposed rule makes clear that President Trump was full of hot air when he promised to restore the billions of gallons of lost renewable fuel – once again leaving Iowa’s economy hanging in the balance. Unlike President Trump, Iowa farmers know they can trust Joe Biden to uphold his commitments to corn growers and biofuel producers. That’s because when Joe gives somebody his word — he means it.”

Please see a statement from Senator Ernst below:

“Just two weeks ago, President Trump followed through on his commitment to Iowa’s farmers and biofuels producers to uphold the RFS and guaranteed we’d see 15 billion gallons. Now we need to see EPA follow through on that commitment. As part of the rulemaking process, EPA will get input from folks on the ground, and I encourage Iowans to submit their comments. Throughout this process, I’ll continue to hold EPA accountable and ensure Iowans’ voices are being heard, loud and clear,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

Finkenauer Statement on EPA’s Supplemental Proposal for Renewable Fuels Volumes

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) released the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) announcement:

“Iowa’s farmers and producers have been promised over and over that this administration will uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard. Just as many times, they’ve been let down by an administration that plays favorites with big oil. As the nation’s corn growers have said, this announcement does not provide confidence that the EPA and Trump administration will follow through on promises to uphold the RFS. I will continue to fight for Iowa’s growers and producers, especially as this administration keeps promising one thing and doing another.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who’s visiting the shuttered biodiesel plant in Crawfordsville, Iowa, on Friday, issued the following statement:

“As we expected, this new rulemaking is too little, too late for farmers, ethanol producers, and the environment. The White House caused this problem and their attempt at fixing it is only a half-hearted band aid. The President needs to stop issuing these improper small refinery exemptions (SREs) that allow refiners to evade their compliance obligations under the Clean Air Act and undermine the original intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). By making exemptions for his big oil buddies, this Administration has broken its promise to rural America and turned its back on our farming communities. Enough is enough.”

Jasper County murder trial delayed

The trial of a second person accused in the beating death of a Des Moines man has been delayed.

A Jasper County judge granted the request from the attorney for 51-year-old Jeffrey Stendrup, of Clive. Stendrup and 26-year-old Jaycie Sheeder were charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in the slaying of Jeremy McDowell. His body was found on June 22, 2018 in Newton in the back of a vehicle Sheeder had been driving.

She was sentenced Oct. 3 to life in prison and last week filed notice of her attention to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. Authorities say Sheeder, of Coon Rapids, kept silent about Stendrup’s involvement in the attack and never tried to stop it.

Jasper County court records say Stendrup’s new trial starting date is Feb. 12. It had been scheduled to start next week.

Jump in number of goats being raised in Iowa

BY 

RADIO IOWA – The number of goat herds is growing in Iowa. The latest data from the U-S-D-A shows there’s been a 61 percent increase nationally in dairy goat herds — and Iowa ranks behind Wisconsin and Texas as the state with the fastest growing dairy goat industry.

James McDaniel farms near Mitchellville and is raising 40 goats.

“They’re one of the favorite animals on the farm. I mean, they’re so personable. They all have names. They know their names,” he says. “They know what treats they like.”

McDaniel says goats are like big puppy dogs, so you’ve got to keep them occupied so they don’t amuse themselves.

“They’re a browser animal, so you’ll seem them trying to chew on stuff they’re not supposed to,” McDaniel says. “But basically, it’s just having good fences and keeping hay in front of them, so they’re getting curious.”

Just like a herd of dairy cows, McDaniel’s goat herd is milked — mechanically — twice a day. He says most of the goat milk from commercial dairies in Iowa either goes to Wisconsin or to central Iowa artisans who are making cheese.

“Goat cheese seems to be really, really hot right now,” McDaniel says.

It’s against state law to sell raw milk from a small farm like McDaniels’ operation for human consumption.

“We find other uses for it,” McDaniels says. “We actually raise hogs and bottle (beef) calves with ours.”

And soap-makers often use goat milk because its high cream content makes a moisturizing soap.

While cow’s milk is the number one type of milk consumed by Americans, the global milk of choice comes from a goat. McDaniel says goat milk is easier to digest because of its protein content. McDaniel is the immediate past president of the Iowa Dairy Goat Association. He says in addition to growing demand for goat milk, goat meat in a growth market. Goat herds also are being rented out to clear weeds. And, of course, there’s the new “goat yoga” fad featuring dwarf or pygmy goats.

Fort Worth officer released on bond after murder charge

By JAKE BLEIBERG and JILL BLEED

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A white former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder after shooting a black woman through a window of her home has been released on bond, and the department told a grieving community that investigators would ensure “no stone is left unturned” in the search for answers.

Jail records show Aaron Dean, 34, was out of custody after posting bond Monday night, less than four hours after his arrest in a shooting that began with a call about an open front door. He had been held on $200,000 bond. Earlier in the day he resigned from the force, and the police chief said he would have been fired if he hadn’t.

Police bodycam video showed Dean approaching the door of the home where Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was caring for her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday. He then walked around the side of the house, pushed through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and fired through the glass a split-second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands.

“Nobody looked at this video and said that there’s any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” Kraus said.

Sgt. Chris Daniels read a statement Monday night after Dean’s arrest in which he pledged that the department’s major case and internal affairs units were working “around the clock” for justice in the case.

“To the citizens and residents of our city: We feel and understand your anger and disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for all of us,” Daniels said.

Earlier in the day, Jefferson’s family had demanded that Dean, a member of the force for 1½ years, be fired and arrested.

“Why this man is not in handcuffs is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community,” family attorney Lee Merritt said, hours before Dean was booked into jail.

Following Dean’s arrest, Merritt said the family “needs to see this through to a vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentencing” and added that that “the city of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”

Police went to Jefferson’s home about 2:25 a.m. after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report a door ajar. In a statement over the weekend, the department said officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them drew his gun and fired after “perceiving a threat.”

The video showed Dean shouting, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” and immediately firing.

Jefferson was staying up late, playing video games with her nephew, when she was killed, according to the family’s attorney.

The video included images of a gun inside a bedroom. Kraus said he did not know whether Jefferson was holding the weapon. But he said the mere fact she had a gun shouldn’t be considered unusual in Texas.

“We’re homeowners in Texas,” the police chief said. “Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting.” Kraus said that, in hindsight, releasing the images of the weapon was “a bad thing to do.”

Mayor Betsy Price called the gun “irrelevant.”

“Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim,” Price said.

Texas has had a “castle doctrine” law on the books since 2007 that gives people a stronger legal defense to use deadly force in their homes. The law was backed at the time by the National Rifle Association and is similar to “stand your ground” measures across the U.S. that say a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder.

Fort Worth is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Dallas, where another high-profile police shooting occurred last year.

In that case, white Dallas officer Amber Guyger shot and killed her black neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment after Guyger said she mistook his place for her own. Guyger, 31, was sentenced this month to 10 years in prison.

A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson’s home Sunday night for a vigil after demonstrations briefly stopped traffic on Interstate 35. A single bullet hole was visible in the window of the single-story, freshly painted purple home, and floral tributes and stuffed animals piled up in the street.

The police chief said Dean could face state charges and that he had submitted a case to the FBI to review for possible federal civil rights charges.

Dean has not yet hired an attorney but will have one provided with financial support from the state’s largest police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, according to Charley Wilkison, executive director.

Relations with the public have been strained after other recent Fort Worth police shootings. In June, the department released footage of officers killing a man who ignored repeated orders to drop his handgun. He was the fourth person Fort Worth police had fired upon in 10 days.

Of the nine officer-involved shootings so far this year in Fort Worth, five targeted African Americans and six resulted in death, according to department data.

Nearly two-thirds of the department’s 1,100 officers are white, just over 20% are Hispanic, and about 10% are black. The city of nearly 900,000 people is about 40% white, 35% Hispanic and 19% black.

Calling the shooting “a pivotal moment in our city,” the mayor said she was ordering a top-to-bottom review of the police force and vowed to “rebuild a sense of trust within the city and with our police department.”

Jefferson was a 2014 graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales and was considering going to medical school, according to the family’s lawyer.

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Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant in Houston and Adam Kealoha Causey in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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