President Trump: Putting American Energy First

Source: By Bob Dinneen, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017

It’s the early days of the Trump administration and already the signs of change are apparent as the new president fulfills his promise to shake up the establishment in Washington and return government to the people. One change we do not expect to see, however, is any retreat on the nation’s renewable fuels policy. We believe the industry will continue to grow and thrive as President Trump puts America and American energy first.

Why? Take what EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in his January confirmation hearing. “To honor the intent and the expression of the renewable fuel standard statute is very, very important. It’s not the job of the administrator or the EPA to do anything other than administer the program according to the intent of Congress. And I commit to you to do so,” he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Other members of his cabinet, including Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, will echo Trump’s energy priorities. That’s because they have gotten the message—Trump understands the value of strong, American energy policies like the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

While on the campaign trail, Trump said “the RFS…is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence to the United States. I will do all that is in my power as president to achieve that goal. As president, I will encourage Congress to be cautious in attempting to change any part of the RFS.” Trump knows there’s no reason to reverse course and we look forward to strong annual RFS rules under his administration.

More importantly, we expect a heavy focus in the Trump administration on regulatory reform. Trump is committed to removing regulatory barriers that impede growth. Don’t we have a long list of those?! Among the issues we would like addressed is removing the unnecessary volatility restrictions that have discouraged market acceptance of higher-level ethanol blends like E15 and created unreasonable administrative burdens on gasoline marketers willing to offer these fuels to consumers.

EPA’s regulations, which grant a summertime volatility waiver to E10 but not to any other ethanol blends, have created an uneven playing field for E15 and other higher-level blends. Under the Obama administration, EPA has stated it does not believe it has the statutory authority to extend the 1 psi RVP waiver to E15. We disagree and are hopeful the Trump administration is more amenable to this common-sense change.

Meantime, we expect Trump and his administration to be much more supportive of our industry’s export efforts. Under the Obama administration, our industry had been hampered by the European Union’s illegal 9.5 percent antidumping duty. While the EU General Court last year invalidated certain ethanol duties, the European Commission has filed an appeal and the duties will be in place during that time.

The U.S. Trade Representative under the Obama administration was reluctant to bring the case to the World Trade Organization. But this administration is all about American energy and we believe won’t be afraid to fight back against unlawful trade restrictions. For example, we anticipate Trump’s administration will vigorously oppose duties imposed by China on the coproduct of ethanol production, distillers dried grains. We look forward to having a strong ally in Terry Branstad, U.S. ambassador to China and the longest-serving governor of Iowa who, like Trump, understands the value of American agriculture.

Trump is all about American business, American energy and American innovation. He will put America first. We look forward to working with his administration on ways to boost domestically produced ethanol, the lowest-cost, cleanest-octane transportation fuel on the planet.

Bob Dinneen is the President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association