President Urges Lawmakers to Compromise on Renewable Fuel Standard

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer • Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017

A group of senators asked the president on Thursday to change the Renewable Fuel Standard. (DTN file photo)

A group of senators asked the president on Thursday to change the Renewable Fuel Standard. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) — Eight United States senators who met with President Donald Trump on Thursday are expected to reach out to lawmakers from corn-ethanol states on the Renewable Fuel Standard in order to find ways to make the law acceptable to both sides.

Reuters reported on Friday the president asked the senators to find a solution during the meeting that also included U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

As of Friday morning, no meeting has been scheduled.

Michael Zona, a press aide to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told DTN on Friday the senator had a telephone discussion with the White House following Thursday’s meeting.

“Following the White House meeting, Chief of Staff Gen. (John) Kelly spoke with Sen. Grassley over the phone and reiterated the president’s unwavering commitment to ethanol, the RFS and Midwestern farmers,” Zona said. “No meeting has been scheduled. Sen. Grassley would of course meet with any senator who requests a meeting.”

Eight senators from oil-producing states raised concerns about the costs to comply with the RFS, namely when it comes to the price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs.

The meeting with Trump and Pruitt included Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Mike Lee of Utah. In a joint statement, the senators said the discussions went well.

“We had a productive meeting today (Thursday) with the president to discuss how to fix the RFS compliance problem in a way that protects both refinery workers and corn farmers,” the statement said. “We look forward to working with our colleagues representing Midwest states to find a win-win solution.”

The price of RINs has been a sore spot for refiners such as Valero Energy. Obligated parties in the RFS can either blend ethanol in gasoline or buy RINs to comply with the law. Valero had proposed leaving RINs attached to U.S. ethanol gallons produced in the U.S. and exported. Currently, the credits are removed from exported gallons. The biofuels industry was concerned that doing so would flood the market with RINs and harm domestic biofuel producers.