Anti-RFS senators request meeting with Trump

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017

Nine senators critical of biofuel mandates today asked President Trump to meet with them and supporters of renewable fuel.

The letter follows the administration’s back-and-forth signals on biofuel mandates.

Led by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the lawmakers asked for a sit-down to “discuss a pathway forward toward a mutually agreeable solution” that reflects the interests of petroleum refiners.

For months, U.S. EPA signaled moves toward reducing required biodiesel volumes, for instance, and possibly shifting responsibility for ethanol mandates from refiners to fuel blenders.

Then, after corn-state senators pressured EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency last week appeared to shift direction, saying it wouldn’t change the point of obligation and would probably keep biofuel volume mandates steady or increasing.

In their letter, RFS critics said tens of thousands of jobs around the country could be at stake if refineries close because of costs related to the biofuel mandates, including the high price of buying renewable fuel credits.

The letter follows complaints by the refining industry that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other RFS allies strong-armed the administration into reversing course. Other maneuverings are at work this week, as well, with Cruz placing a hold on Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s nomination for an undersecretary position at the Department of Agriculture in protest.

Ethanol allies said senators critical of the RFS were trying to undermine Trump’s public support of biofuels.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to roll back the president’s strong commitment to the RFS and undo the pledge issued last week by the EPA Administrator to assure America’s hardworking farmers that the biofuels market will continue to thrive,” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, representing ethanol companies, said in a statement.