To the editor:

Across Wisconsin, nearly 30,000 workers help fuel our biofuels industry. From farm families to producer plants, these jobs provide the economic backbone for rural communities across the state. When this important industry succeeds, we all do.

President Donald Trump recently instructed his Environmental Protection Agency to deny dozens of retroactive waivers that date back nearly a decade. The secretive waivers destroy demand for biofuels produced from farm feedstocks by allowing oil companies to cut ethanol and biodiesel from the fuel mix. Over the past few years, they have destroyed billions of gallons in ethanol demand. The decision to reject the retroactive waivers is welcome news at a critical moment when farm families are working to get back on their feet after COVID-19.

That doesn’t mean we can rest easy. Dozens of additional exemptions are still waiting on a decision at EPA. And despite assurances, we haven’t yet seen concrete action on promises to remove regulatory barriers to the sale of higher ethanol blends like E15. Given the hardships we’ve faced in 2020, there’s no reason to deny consumers the ability to select lower-cost, higher-octane fuel options blended with homegrown ethanol. It’s vital that leaders in Congress continue to speak out against oil-backed efforts to dodge the law, circumvent the courts, and upend markets.

The agricultural supply chain has been rocked by long-running trade wars and the pandemic. To put things back on track for recovery, we need strong support in Washington.

— Keith Ripp, Lodi