You can’t alway get what you want

Source: By Kelsey Tamborrino, Politico • Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Despite efforts by President Donald Trump to settle a long-running dispute between ethanol backers and the refining industry, progress on a biofuels deal has stalled. Instead, the administration has taken a piecemeal approach to the policy, pushing for an expanded market for higher blends of ethanol, while handing out exemptions to the Renewable Fuels Standard to small refiners.

Trump, for his part, has huddled multiple times with members of his Cabinet, industry and lawmakers from both corn belt and oil states, Pro’s Eric Wolff reports. But so far, there’s been little progress in striking a grand deal. At odds are the independent refiners, who say they feel financial stress from the RFS, and the agriculture sector, which is anxious to expand the market for corn ethanol.

Trump has promised to allow year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol blends of gasoline, while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has so far granted more than two dozen temporary waivers to small refineries that exempt them from the mandate requiring them to blend ethanol with gasoline. “After 18 months of pursuing various regulatory forms of relief and a handful of Oval Office confabs, the merchant refiners ended up with [an increase in E15] taking even more market share away from them in return for some small refiner hardship waivers – and some of them did not even get that,” one oil refining source told Eric.

And Pruitt’s controversies stemming from his first-class flights, security spending and condo rental from a lobbyist, have left the EPA chief unable to make an aggressive case for instituting price caps many refiners want on the biofuel credits, according to an administration source. Read more here.

Democrats weigh in: House Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone and Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson sent this letter to the president on Friday, expressing concern with the waivers issued by Pruitt to small refineries, writing it “undermines the goal of the RFS program, creates uncertainty and economic hardship in the agricultural community, and gives unfair advantage to specific facilities within the refining sector.”