Grants totaling $100 million will be available to install or retrofit fuel pumps and storage tanks to handle higher blends of corn ethanol and biodiesel than now commonly offered, said the USDA, with details to be available by mid-spring. "USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of home-grown energy," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
China, Brazil and the United States will help drive a dramatic global increase in ethanol consumption in the next 10 years, said a U.S. Grains Council analyst on Monday. However, the Sino-U.S. trade war will blunt the opportunity for ethanol from the United States, the world’s largest exporter, …
The Trump administration responded to months of Farm Belt complaints that it was undermining homegrown biofuels by vowing to increase the ethanol mandate, beginning next year, above the 15-billion-gallon-a-year target that is set by law. Officials did not specify a new figure for corn ethanol usage nor did its package include the oil industry's goal of a cap on the price of credits that refiners must buy if they do not mix enough ethanol into gasoline.
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.
President Trump, who campaigned for the White House as a friend of corn ethanol, said on Thursday that the administration is “very close” to approving year-round sales of a 15 percent blend of ethanol into gasoline. “We’re taking care of your ethanol,” said Trump during a trip to Iowa, the top corn-growing and ethanol-producing state.
Administration officials will hold their first White House meeting in a month on the Renewable Fuel Standard, as ethanol makers and corn growers fear an attack on the ethanol mandate. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said if the White House weakens the RFS, it "will be viewed as nothing less than a declaration of war on rural America and a complete abdication of [President Trump's] repeated promises to protect the RFS."
Five corn-state senators want to meet President Trump face to face to warn him against the oil industry's proposal of a cap on the price of RINs, the credits that refiners must buy if they don't blend enough ethanol into gasoline. Oil-state senators, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, say the cap is needed to preserve jobs at oil refineries; midwesterners say it would destroy the market for corn ethanol.
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.
The White House is taking a break from biofuels policy, at least temporarily, after two meetings with President Trump at the table failed to find consensus between the oil and ethanol industries. The only agreement, according to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was part of both meetings, "was to look at economic studies" about the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard and possible changes.
Corn ethanol represents the first generation of biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol, made from grass, woody plants, and crop debris, was supposed to be the second generation.