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EPA administrator meets with Indiana
ag leaders to discuss RFS, conservation

—By Kyle Cline
Public Policy Team

Gina McCarthy (left), the newly appointed administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Indiana Nov. 16 as part of her Midwestern ag tour. One of the stops was Kelsay Farms. She’s shown here with Joe Kelsay and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Photo courtesy of Hoosier Ag Today

Newly confirmed EPA administrator Gina McCarthy made a stop in the Hoosier state on Nov. 16 at Kelsay Farms in Whiteland as part of her Midwestern agriculture tour to see farming up close and hear first-hand accounts about the innovations being implemented by ag leaders and the challenges they face.

Senator Joe Donnelly was also on hand to host the administrator and discuss the concerns of farmers and industry leaders, including the EPA’s proposed decision to reduce the amount of renewable fuels required to be blended in our overall fuel supply.

The EPA proposal would cut nearly 3 billion gallons of biofuel that was originally mandated to be blended into the fuel supply. Conventional biofuel would be cut to 13 billion gallons per year from 14.4 billion, a decrease that represents nearly the entire amount of ethanol currently produced in Indiana. The proposal also reduces cellulosic biofuels to 17 million from 1.75 billion.

Farmers, ag leaders and biofuel interests at the meeting responded by indicating the significant economic consequences for farm families and rural communities all across the Midwest as well as the nation’s energy security.

Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock also noted the link between the economic benefits of ethanol and increased conservation practices.

“Ethanol has given farmers the ability to be better stewards of the land because they have had the income to invest in new innovative conservation tools and practices”, said Villwock. “With this decision, you have effectively shot the golden goose for agriculture.”

In response, McCarthy highlighted the current challenges with the “blend wall”: lack of infrastructure, lack of flex-fuel vehicles, and lack of information as primary reasons for the latest decision. However, she asked for the help of farmers and ag leaders.

“The latest announcement is a proposal and we want input, we want to understand how it impacts the market, how it impacts your community,” said McCarthy.

Donnelly commented that, “We need to tell ag’s story on ethanol, fight the bad information on ethanol effects on cars and the environment, and challenge the oil companies.”

Other issues discussed at the meeting included conservation compliance and nutrient reduction and management. “Conservation farming keeps nutrients in the soil and protects the waterways and environment. I am concerned about potential rules coming from EPA on what we can use for nutrients and how we manage them,” said Roger Wenning.

The EPA is seeking input on the proposed RFS decision and its impacts. Farmers are encouraged to email or call 317-692-7845 for more information or for assistance.

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