With an eye toward shoring up Farm Belt support less than two months before the election, President Trump directed the EPA to deny dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive waivers from U.S. biofuel laws, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Oil-state Sen. Ted Cruz captured President Trump's attention two weeks ago with his dramatic proposal to ease the cost of the ethanol mandate on refiners: A price cap on RINs, the credits that refiners buy if they don't blend enough biofuel into gasoline. Farm groups and ethanol makers say Cruz's idea would be a disaster for them, and now some alternative ideas are getting a hearing.
In a potentially significant change to the U.S. ethanol mandate, the EPA is considering whether to allow exports of ethanol to be counted toward the volume requirements in a law intended to boost the domestic consumption of biofuels, said Reuters, citing two unnamed sources. The ethanol trade group Growth Energy said the proposal cast doubt on the Trump administration’s support for biofuels, including corn-based ethanol.
Billionaire Carl Icahn has been an informal White House adviser on regulatory issues since the early days of the Trump administration. Five Democratic senators asked EPA chief Scott Pruitt for all documents involving any communications involving Icahn and his businesses and the EPA, which regulates air pollution laws and biofuel usage.
The so-called ethanol mandate guarantees the biofuel a share of the gasoline market. Because of this, the Wall Street Journal says "some of the world's biggest oil companies" will see a windfall of more than $1 billion from the sale of renewable fuel credits associated with the mandate.