House Democrats released a massive report on Tuesday calling for widespread changes in the economy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the United States by 2050, laying out in effect a policy blueprint after the 2020 election. “To turn the tide on climate change, the United States needs to …
President Trump, a staunch supporter of corn ethanol, told nine senators from oil-producing states to take their complaints about federal biofuel mandates to their farm-state colleagues and find a mutually acceptable solution.
Farm-state officials played their Trump card six weeks ago, calling in White House support to quash potential cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets U.S. targets for biofuel consumption.
In 2007, Congress set a goal of mixing 36 billion gallons of biofuels, the bulk of it coming from second-generation "advanced" fuels, into gasoline annually, beginning in 2022. Economist Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois says the "actual, effective floor" for biofuels will be 20 billion gallons, based on the recent U.S. appellate court ruling that clarifies the EPA's power to adjust the so-called Renewable Fuels Standard.
Standing in shirtsleeves on a hay rack at an Iowa farm, Agriculture Secretary discarded his prepared speech in favor of repeated promises to be an unstinting advocate of U.S. food and ag exports, which generate 20 percent of farm income. President Trump supports biofuels, said Perdue, adding, "I think it was the boss who said we're not going to mess with the RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard)."
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the Trump administration's nominee for U.S. ambassador to China, says he is assured that a change in the Renewable Fuels Standard sought by oil refiners "is not going to happen," reported Radio Iowa. But a White House official told Reuters the proposal was under review, although the administration took no position "either way on this issue at this time."
The corn ethanol industry squabbled over a rumored White House overhaul of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which guarantees biofuels a share of the gasoline market and provides a market for more than a third of the U.S. corn crop. By the end of the day, however, the White House knocked down talk that it would allow year-round sales of a 15 percent blend of ethanol, a step up from the 10 percent blend that is now standard, and potentially a large expansion in ethanol sales.
As a candidate, Donald Trump supported corn ethanol and, one month after taking office, he reiterated his view, telling the National Ethanol Conference, "renewable fuels are essential to America's energy strategy." The industry is under perennial attack by the oil industry and by some environmental groups, that want to reduce or eliminate the federal mandate to use biofuels.
EPA nominee Scott Pruitt told senators that he would enforce the federal mandate to blend biofuels into the U.S. gasoline supply, reserving the right to adjust the Renewable Fuels Standard to reflect market conditions. Newly elected Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth said the "nice-sounding but ultimately vague" answer could allow him to gut the program, popular in farm country and hated by the oil industry.