Pres. Trump told oil and corn industry representatives today that he supported changing USA biofuels policy in a way that would limit costs to refiners while expanding sales of ethanol, Reuters reports.
The meetings come amid rising concern in the White House over the current state of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a law requiring refiners to mix biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel that has increasingly divided two of Trump's most important constituencies.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley set a record two years ago for the longest time in the U.S. Senate without missing a vote. Joni Ernst, both Republicans from Iowa, thought the matter was settled. However, every single independent expert, including noted oil economist Phil Verleger, the University of Pennsylvania Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Reuters, and even EPA professional staff, agree that RINs are not the cause of PES' bankruptcy.
"The President has been clear in his commitment to the RFS and his support for our farmers and energy workers", the White House said in a statement after the meeting.
Prices for the blending credits have surged in recent years, upsetting refining companies that in some cases are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on them.
A smaller meeting earlier this week ended with Grassley and Ernst calling White House efforts to help refiners cope with the regulation a threat to farmers and vowing to fight proposed changes.
The Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol during the summer months, a move meant to reduce ozone emissions and smog during the peak driving season.
"I can tell you Trump stands with corn farmers, biofuel farmers and the RFS", Perdue told an audience at the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California, according to a recording heard by Reuters. I am too, which is why I strongly support the US biofuels industry, which 50,000 Iowans depend on for their livelihoods. "Sen. Cruz has talked a lot about wall street speculators driving up these certificate prices", he said. "Today's meeting is a part of the ongoing effort to best understand the many differing views on this issue, and the president looks forward to continuing this discussion", a statement said.
Biofuel interests in the meeting tried to persuade Trump to approve the so-called E15 waiver and see if that drives down credit prices, but Trump rejected the request saying the industry needed immediate changes. Ted Cruz of Texas.
"Everything Sen. Cruz has offered would gut the Renewable Fuel Standard and halt expansion of homegrown biofuels here in the USA", said Kyle Gilley, senior vice president of external affairs and communications at Poet.
Ernst said that this upcoming Thursday, Trump would be holding a stakeholder meeting with members of the renewable fuels community and industry to examine the impacts that the RFS has on rural economies and the oil industry, but both she and Grassley were adamant that they were only interested in "win-win" scenarios for the RFS, and that the economic shortcomings with the Pennsylvania refineries are an isolated incident.
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The biofuels industry had mixed reaction to the meeting, generally supporting year-round sales of high-ethanol blend gasoline but anxious the proposed price cap would curtail investment in blending facilities.
Cruz had held up the confirmation of Bill Northey, Trump's nominee for undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the Department of Agriculture, over the lawmaker's opposition to the RFS program. "Iowans will not have the wool pulled over their eyes, and we made this very clear in today's meeting". Like others, however, she stuck to her bargaining position.