Ag, Ethanol Interests Warn Trump on OPEC Influence

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progessive Farmer • Posted: Friday, December 16, 2016

A handful of announced presidential cabinet nominees with strong ties to the oil industry, raised concerns that perhaps President-elect Donald Trump may be preparing to turn his back on biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard,….

This week Trump announced that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a long-time opponent of ethanol and strong oil industry advocate, was nominated to serve as secretary of energy. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson is Trump’s pick for secretary of state. In addition, Trump nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt also has connections to the oil industry.

In recent days Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad assured the agriculture and ethanol industries during a news conference that he believes Trump will stand by his word on the RFS.

Until now many agriculture and ethanol groups have been silent about the nominations.

In a letter to Trump Thursday, however, a list of who’s who in agriculture and ethanol reminded the president-elect of his support for ethanol while taking a poke at the oil industry.

Those signing the letter include: Archer Daniels Midland; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Renewable Fuels Association; DuPont; Growth Energy; Monsanto; Poet; Novozymes; National Corn Growers Association; Advanced Biofuels Business Council; American Coalition for Ethanol; DSM; Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; National Farmers Union; National Association of Wheat Growers and 25X’25.

“On behalf of America’s renewable fuel sector, we write to offer our congratulations on a successful campaign that won the confidence of millions of voters across America’s heartland, home to a growing and vibrant biofuel industry,” the letter said.

“As you noted during the campaign, the Renewable Fuel Standard ‘is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the U.S.’ because ‘energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again.’ We applaud your commitment to the RFS and share your enthusiasm for reinvigorating the economic powerhouse of America’s heartland. To that end, we look forward to working with your administration to ensure that homegrown renewable fuels like ethanol continue to serve as a source of economic growth in rural communities, a source of affordable fuel options for consumers, and a source of American strength against hostile nations overseas.

“As you know, renewed efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to manipulate global energy prices serve as an urgent reminder of America’s need to harness the vast renewable resources available here at home. The global market for oil is not free, and oil companies control the infrastructure that delivers renewable fuel to the pump. The RFS corrects the imbalance to ensure competition among fuel producers and consumer choice.

“Tapping these resources has created much-needed jobs in the very communities left behind by other manufacturing industries. Biofuels also offer a critical market for an agricultural community facing an economic crisis. Farm incomes have declined for three straight years, and a massive surplus of grain threatens to leave many farmers without a viable market for their products. The RFS is a proven tool for promoting growth. Under this policy, America’s biofuels industry has emerged as a global leader. The industry provides about ten percent of the nation’s liquid fuels and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, from farmers in Iowa to biotechnology researchers in California. As a result, consumers save money at the gas pump and our vulnerability to manipulation by unfriendly nations continues to decline.

“Thanks to the efforts of advocates like yourself, the Environmental Protection Agency this November announced goals for the RFS that match statutory targets, finally getting the RFS back on track after years of delay. We urge you to stand strong against those who seek to undermine this vital program and we offer our full support in your continued efforts to grow the nation’s renewable fuels industry and create economic opportunities across the United States.”