‘Win-win’ deal lacks votes — Cruz

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2018

A “win-win” solution to ease renewable fuel mandates on refiners without hurting farmers would lose in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz said today.

“We don’t have 60 votes. We’re nowhere close to 60 votes,” the Texas Republican said at a news conference with refinery workers, where he pushed for a cap on prices for renewable fuel credits and potentially expanded sales of higher-ethanol fuel as a trade-off.

Any legislation would need 60 votes to overcome likely procedural challenges.

That idea has fallen flat with the ethanol industry and its supporters in Congress, however, and Cruz said only a directive from the Trump administration would solve the impasse.

“Everyone who’s saying the solution’s got to be legislative, what they’re really saying is do nothing for these guys,” Cruz said, “saying let’s wait until magic fairy dust comes from on high and suddenly 60 senators stand together, that’s really saying don’t solve the problem.”

Cruz has taken up the cause of Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc., the refinery that has blamed the high cost of complying with the renewable fuel standard for its bankruptcy filing earlier this year. He appeared with workers from the facility as well as with Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), a candidate for Senate.

The company said it spent $218 million last year on renewable fuel credits called Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, which was more than double the refinery’s payroll cost.

EPA concurred with PES’s reasoning, and agency chief Scott Pruitt has said the administration is looking for ways to ease the impact on refiners.

After months of meetings, including with President Trump, officials haven’t reached a decision. The president said earlier this month that the administration would open higher-ethanol fuels to year-round sales, but Pruitt told farm broadcasters Tuesday that EPA is still analyzing the legal framework for doing so (Greenwire, April 20).

Most gasoline sold in the United States is 10 percent ethanol. At today’s news conference, Cruz didn’t specifically say he supports expanding sales of E15 fuel, which is 15 percent ethanol, but acknowledged that doing so is part of the bargain the White House has discussed for months.

The National Biodiesel Board, a pro-RFS industry group, dismissed Cruz’s appearance as a “sideshow.”

“Every so-called solution he’s proposed has implicit negative consequences for biofuels and farmers,” the NBB said in a statement. “Abundant research demonstrates the RFS is working and RIN compliance places no net burden on refiners. That negates the entire premise of his claims.”