Branstad shoots down rumored anti-ethanol backroom deal

Source: By William Petroski, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he is aware of reports of a backroom deal in the Washington, D.C., that would hurt Iowa’s renewable fuels industry, but has been assured President Donald Trump’s administration will support producers of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

“I know the rumors and I can tell you who was involved, and I can tell you they are not true,” Branstad told reporters Monday. He added that he has talked with his son, Eric Branstad, who works in the Trump administration, and that his son told him that “this is not going to happen.”

The renewable fuels industry was in an uproar last week after a national advocacy group said a Trump official told the organization the president would sign an executive order shifting the burden for blending ethanol and biodiesel into the nation’s fuel supply from oil refiners to fuel retailers. The move, critics said, would hurt Iowa farmers and consumers by hindering the widespread use of ethanol and biodiesel. The White House subsequently distanced itself from the reports.

Branstad said he shared concerns about a possible shift of responsibility for blending biofuels to retailers. The agreement allegedly involved the Renewable Fuels Association and Trump adviser Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor in CVR Refining, a Texas energy company.

“It would be much more difficult to enforce the renewable fuels standard if you had to deal with all the retailers in the nation, rather than the people who are distributing the fuel,” Branstad said. “That is the reason why practically it doesn’t make sense, and that is the reason why it was shot down real quick when the rumors surfaced.”

Branstad said he had had a “very good meeting” with Scott Pruitt, the newly confirmed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He said Pruitt indicated that the Trump administration’s EPA will make timely decisions regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.

“We are pleased with that,” Branstad said. “I think he got a very clear message from the president at the time that he was appointed that he will support ethanol, and he is supporting ethanol.”