Grassley Says Infrastructure May Take Center Stage in 2018

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer • Posted: Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bill Northey's nomination to a USDA post continues to be on hold. (DTN file photo)

Bill Northey’s nomination to a USDA post continues to be on hold. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) — Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday the U.S. Senate needs to end a hold on the nomination of Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey to a key USDA post and also pushed ethanol and oil interests to work out their differences with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Grassley told reporters he hasn’t talked with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, about the continued hold up of Northey’s nomination to USDA undersecretary.

Cruz placed the hold until lawmakers from oil-producing states were granted a meeting with the president and others to discuss possible changes to the RFS.

Cruz and others have proposed placing a 10-cent cap on the price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs, as a way to bring down RFS compliance costs for refiners.

Grassley said he is calling for representatives from both the oil and ethanol industries to hold meetings about possible RFS solutions. Northey’s nomination “will have to proceed without the RFS,” Grassley said. “Northey is entitled to an answer as to when he’s dealt with in the United States Senate.”

Grassley said the ethanol industry “tells us a cap on RINs would be catastrophic to ethanol. This is a pretty unanimous feeling among the ethanol industry that it would be a no-go. There seems to be some lack of communication on the impact on these various proposals would have.”

Cruz offered the proposal on behalf of oil refiners. In response, biofuel industry leaders sent a letter to the president in recent weeks with details on why the RIN market exists, how it is operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and some of the problems the agency has in providing transparency on RIN trading.

RINs are generated when a qualified renewable fuel is either produced or imported. RINs then are bought within the refinery industry by companies that are not producing or buying enough renewable fuels to meet their blending obligations.

There are several nested categories for RINs depending upon the renewable — such as corn ethanol or biodiesel — which do have different values. D6 is considered the baseline RIN.