The Trump administration proposed a Renewable Fuel Standard of 20.04 billion gallons for 2020, meaning no change in corn ethanol's share of the gasoline market for cars and light trucks, while the share of that market going to cleaner-burning cellulosic ethanol, made from grass and woody plants, will increase by 120 million gallons. Farm groups and biofuel makers, who opened the summer with a celebration that higher-blend E15 was approved for year-round sale, said the EPA bowed to Big Oil.
In a letter to President Trump, five Corn Belt senators said on Monday the EPA "is currently undermining your commitment of a 15 billion-gallon RFS." The Republican senators sent the letter on the same day White House officials were scheduled to discuss possible revisions to the ethanol mandate, which requires oil refiners to blend in the corn-based fuel.
Last October, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would investigate whether it has the authority to allow year-round sales of E15, a goal of the ethanol industry. It's still doing the research five months later and may find the answer soon, Pruitt told AgDay TV, when asked about possible changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard.
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.
Nearly three months ago, President Trump told oil-state and farm-state senators to find a mutually acceptable resolution to their fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard — the requirement that oil refiners mix biofuel, usually corn-based ethanol, into gasoline and diesel. Now the squabble is back in the president’s hands with a familiar set of proposals on the table for a group of senators who found them unpalatable in the past.
The holding company Icahn Enterprises was subpoenaed for information about its founder’s attempts to change U.S. biofuel policy while he was an informal White House advisor, reported Bloomberg.
President Trump will meet oil industry leaders and their congressional allies for a discussion of the biofuels mandate, reported Reuters, based on two sources. The meeting "could set the stage for negotiations to overhaul the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard," said the wire service; the industry has pressed for years to eliminate the mandate or revise its requirement to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.
China's plan to move to a 10 percent blend of ethanol into its gasoline supply will be a boon for U.S. ethanol exports, said ADM chief executive Juan Luciano. Agrimoney says that Luciano told investors that China could need imports of 8 million tons a year by 2020 to satisfy the E10 target because of the nation's longer-term fuel strategy.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt quelled midwestern protests over a potential change in course by the Trump administration, saying there would be no additional cuts in the biofuels mandate proposed for 2018. But two groups, the National Biodiesel Board and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said the government ought to raise the target for biodiesel.