Trump Administration Continues to Push for More Biofuels
In separate September 11 meetings, Trump Administration officials pressured biofuel and oil refining executives to agree to a plan to bolster the blending of corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel.
The White House, caught between Trump’s oil and gas and agriculture supporters, is seeking a way to placate farmers infuriated by the Trump Administration’s decision in August to exempt 31 small oil refineries from their responsibility to blend biofuels under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard.
The oil and gas industry aggressively opposed the biofuel mandate and hoped that the Trump Administration would rid them of the requirement. At the same time, the agriculture industry says the decision is undermining the market for corn-based ethanol even as farmers are losing export sales from the U.S. trade war with China.
Renewable fuel advocates pushed back on the draft administration plan, arguing it would not do enough to offset the exemptions that they see as allowing small oil refineries to dodge annual biofuel-blending quotas. Biodiesel executives also argued that the small oil refinery exemptions disproportionately affect producers and distributors of soy-based diesel fuel. They said that any plan to offset the waivers needs to focus on hard-hit biodiesel.
The EPA is legally obligated to set the annual quotas under the Renewable Fuel Standard by November 30, leaving little time for the agency to develop a new plan and present it for public comment. Adding to the urgency, Trump last month promised he would soon deliver a “giant package” of biofuel changes aimed at quelling angst in Iowa and other politically important Midwest states over the oil refinery exemptions.