Ethanol industry calls Trump an ‘advocate’

Source: By JOHN SICILIANO, Washington Examiner • Posted: Friday, December 16, 2016

The ethanol industry and agriculture giants called President-elect Trump an advocate for renewable fuels in a letter sent Thursday, saying they are ready to work with the incoming administration to boost jobs.

“Thanks to the efforts of advocates like yourself, the Environmental Protection Agency this November announced goals for the [Renewable Fuel Standard] that match statutory targets, finally getting the [program] back on track after years of delay,” the letter read, signed by agri-business giant Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, DuPont, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Novozymes and others that take up the coalition called Fuels America.

The coalition was formed in recent years to push back against efforts in Congress to repeal the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires refiners to blend an increasing amount of ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel supplies.

The letter wants Trump to support the EPA program, which has been a huge job creator in big corn states such as Iowa with Ohio and other Midwest farm states, while helping them to push back against efforts to scuttle it.

“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,” 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,'” the letter added. “We applaud your commitment to the RFS and share your enthusiasm for reinvigorating the economic powerhouse of America’s heartland.”

The letter offers to work with the incoming “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.”

At the same time, the oil industry and refiners, some of whom have been advising Trump, are pushing to restrict ethanol use and scrap or significantly change the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Wall Street investment mogul and Trump donor Carl Icahn said last month that the program is hurting a segment of the refinery industry that he is invested in, and it must be altered, or done away with, or risk job losses and a surge in fuel prices that would significantly harm the economy.

The fuel program is expected to be one of the first issues that Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is expected to face in the new year.

Trump’s choice for energy secretary, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has a history of opposing the EPA ethanol requirements while governor, setting precedent as one of the first states to petition the agency to waive the fuel requirements for the Lone Star State. The Energy Department’s analysis and statistical arm, the Energy Information Administration, plays a role in advising EPA on how high the renewable fuel requirements are set from one year to the next.