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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE September 9, 2019

Top Story

Unlikely Allies: California And Iowa Look To Cleaner Ethanol

By Josh Cook, Iowa Starting Line  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

Leaders from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a major influencer in how markets nationwide respond to environmental concerns, took a trip to Iowa last week to visit ethanol production plants and corn farms, talking to ethanol-industry leaders in the state about expanding biofuel usage in California. Several of the West Coast visitors seemed like they came away from the week impressed with just how much carbon soil can store, and how efficient corn can be. [ read more … ]

White House Biofuel Plan

Agreement Eludes White House on Biofuel Path to Calm Corn Belt

By Mario Parker and Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

President Donald Trump and top administration officials were unable Friday to finalize a plan for aiding biofuel — and quelling corn-belt criticism — after agricultural groups and farm-state lawmakers said a compromise under consideration would only stoke more anger. A White House meeting on the issue Friday afternoon ended without agreement on a final package of changes to bolster U.S. biofuel-blending mandates and take other steps to propel corn-based ethanol, despite weeks of negotiations and Trump’s Sept. 2 tweet promising “big” changes within two weeks. The administration will continue to deliberate, according to people familiar with the talks who asked not to be named to discuss a private meeting. The backlash has been especially strong in Iowa, an early voting state that helped elect Trump to the White House in 2016 and is critically important to his re-election in 2020. [ read more … ]

Biofuel plan faces fresh backlash from U.S. agricultural trade groups

By Chris Prentice, Stephanie Kelly and Jarrett Renshaw, Reuters  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

U.S. agricultural trade groups on Friday told the Trump administration a proposed biofuel reform package falls short of expectations, four sources familiar with discussions said, complicating plans the administration had for presenting the proposal to President Donald Trump. Trump was expected to meet with Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture officials on Friday afternoon to discuss the proposal meant to assuage farmers angry about biofuel blending exemptions given to oil refineries, a separate source said. Trump has found himself in a political bind as he looks to appease two of his most prized constituencies – Big Oil and Big Corn – to again propel him into the presidency next year. [ read more … ]

Trump in high-stakes balancing act between oil and corn ahead of 2020 bid – Reuters

By Humeyra Pamuk, Jarrett Renshaw, Stephanie Kelly, and Chris Prentice, Reuters  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

At a closed-door meeting at the White House on Aug. 19, President Donald Trump looked increasingly alarmed as his top envoy to China delivered evidence of rising Farm Belt frustration over his biofuel policy along with a stark warning: You’ve got a problem in Iowa. Terry Branstad, the former Iowa governor and now U.S. ambassador to China, told Trump that while farmers may have remained loyal to him despite the economic pain caused by the more than year-long trade war with China, they would not stomach policies favoring the oil industry at their expense, according to four people familiar with the substance of the meeting. [ read more … ]

Policy & Politics

Minnesota ethanol plant casualty of increasing stress on biofuel industry

By Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

The Corn Plus ethanol plant in southern Minnesota this week became a casualty of increasing economic duress in the biofuel industry in the state and across the Midwest. Corn Plus, a farmer-owned co-op in Winnebago, suspended operations and began mothballing its plant, which had been losing about $100,000 a week. “We can’t go on like that,” said Lawrence Sukalski, Corn Plus’ board president. “If it can become profitable again, we can get it opened back up.”
[ read more … ]

Car Rule

White House Prepares to Revoke California’s Right to Set Tougher Pollution Rules

By Coral Davenport, New York Times  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

President Trump is strongly considering a plan to revoke California’s legal authority to set state tailpipe pollution standards that are stricter than federal regulations, according to three people familiar with the matter. The potential challenge to California’s authority, which would be a stinging broadside to the state’s governor and environmentalists, has been widely anticipated. But what’s notable is that the administration would be decoupling its challenge to California from its broader plan to weaken federal fuel economy standards, the latest sign that its plans for that rollback have fallen into disarray.
[ read more … ]

Plan to split rollback could complicate fight for greens

By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

If the Trump administration splits up its rollback of Obama-era clean car standards, the ensuing litigation will be more complicated, according to legal experts. The White House is reportedly planning to divide the high-profile regulatory rollback into two discrete components, E&E News and other outlets reported yesterday. The first component involves revoking California’s legal authority to set tougher vehicle emissions rules than the federal government. The second involves freezing fuel economy standards at 2020 levels through 2026, rather than increasing their stringency each year as President Obama had envisioned. [ read more … ]

Justice Dept. Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Automakers’ Emissions Pact With California

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Coral Davenport, New York Times  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

The Justice Department has opened an antitrust inquiry into the four major automakers that struck a deal with California this year to reduce automobile emissions, according to people familiar with the matter, escalating a standoff between President Trump, California and the auto industry over one of his most significant rollbacks of climate regulations. The Trump administration is moving to drastically roll back Obama-era rules designed to reduce car emissions that contribute to global warming, an effort major automakers have publicly opposed. The administration is also considering a plan to revoke California’s legal authority to enforce stricter greenhouse gas emissions rules within its state borders, putting the two sides on a collision course.
[ read more … ]

Justice Department Launches Antitrust Probe Into Four Auto Makers

By Timothy Puko, Wall Street Journal  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

he Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation into four auto makers that forged an independent agreement with California on vehicle-emissions standards, according to people familiar with the situation. “Honda will work cooperatively with the Department of Justice with regard to the recent emissions agreement reached between the State of California and various automotive manufacturers, including Honda,” the company said.
[ read more … ]


Court ruling fuels frustration over small refinery exemptions

By Biodiesel Magazine  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

The National Biodiesel Board expressed frustration with a Sept. 6 court decision declining to review the U.S. EPA’s refusal to properly account for its flood of retroactive small refinery exemptions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed on technical grounds NBB’s petition on the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard rule. NBB challenged EPA’s decision to continue ignoring small refinery exemptions granted after the annual rule is established, even though the agency quietly ramped up granting these exemptions as it took comment on the rule. The court dismissed NBB’s petition on the grounds that the biofuel industry did not comment on the topic and provide EPA sufficient opportunity to address those comments. The court declined to examine EPA’s flood of small refinery exemptions, but left room for future challenges on the issue.
[ read more … ]

Appeals Court Sides With Environmentalists on Legal Claims Over RFS Volumes

By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

A federal court on Friday dismissed all but one legal challenge to EPA’s final 2018 volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard. The court agreed with environmental groups that the EPA did not conduct the proper Endangered Species Act consultation in setting the volumes. In its opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remanded the 2018 rule back to the EPA. The court dismissed a number of other challenges filed by the National Biodiesel Board, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and others.
[ read more … ]

Feds, states go head-to-head in D.C. Circuit

By Pamela King and Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporters  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

Appellate judges today sharply questioned the Trump EPA’s decision to overhaul Obama-era clean car standards. At issue is former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision last year that the Obama-era standards were “inappropriate” and should be revised [ read more … ]


Another Payoff for Ethanol

By Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal  •    •  Posted September 8, 2019

President Trump on Twitter last week promised a “giant package” on ethanol. One issue is how much ethanol the government will make refiners blend into the nation’s fuel supply next year, known as the renewable fuel standard. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed levels, but the ethanol crowd is demanding more corn be added. The ethanol lobby is furious that the Trump Administration granted 31 exemptions to small refineries that struggled to comply with the standard for 2018. Such hardship exemptions are allowed under the Clean Air Act. Some refiners have been spending as much on compliance—buying credits known as “renewable identification numbers,” or RINs—as they shell out on payroll.
[ read more … ]


Note: News clips provided do not necessarily reflect the views of coalition or its member governors.