DES MOINES --- After an Oval Office meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley says he’s encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency understands the president intends to meet promised production targets for ethanol and other biofuels.

“I left the meeting satisfied that the president was saying the same thing — and Wheeler heard him say it — said we got to produce 15 billion gallons,” Grassley said Wednesday, referring to EPA Director Andrew Wheeler.

Grassley said the EPA must address the granting of waivers to refineries that he believes has reduced the amount of ethanol blended with conventional fuels from the 15 billion gallons a year required by law to slightly more than 13 billion gallons.

Grassley said he told Trump EPA action since their September meeting “leaves a lot of questions whether or not we’re going to get the 15 billion gallons that we said we were going to get.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard allows the EPA to grant waivers to small refineries that can demonstrate compliance would create economic hardships.

Between 2013 and 2015, the EPA granted no more than eight waivers in a year. It retroactively approved 19 waivers for 2016 and granted 35 waivers in 2017, which is equal to removing 1.82 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2017 alone.

The matter takes on growing urgency as another Iowa refinery has announced it will “pause production” and lay off 30 of its 70 employees at its Emmetsburg cellulosic ethanol plant in February.

“The bottom line is it’s very clear that biodiesel and ethanol are hurting,” Grassley said.

The EPA will have an opportunity to correct the situation after a public comment period ends Nov. 29.

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