In this file:
· Trump administration promises biofuel boost to farmers, angering Big Oil
· Trump's Vague Plan to Boost Ethanol Has the Oil Industry Threatening to Sue
Trump administration promises biofuel boost to farmers, angering Big Oil
Humeyra Pamuk & Stephanie Kelly, Reuters
October 4, 2019
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Friday unveiled a plan to boost U.S. biofuels consumption starting next year to help struggling farmers, a move that cheered the agriculture industry but triggered a backlash from Big Oil.
The plan would require an unspecified increase in the amount of ethanol that oil refiners must add to their fuel in 2020, and would also aim to remove further barriers to the sale of higher ethanol blends of gasoline like E15, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.
“President Trump’s leadership has led to an agreement that continues to promote domestic ethanol and biodiesel production, supporting our nation’s farmers and providing greater energy security,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.
The deal is widely seen as an attempt by President Donald Trump to mend fences with the powerful corn lobby, which was outraged by the EPA's decision in August to exempt 31 oil refineries here from their obligations under the RFS. This freed the refineries from the requirement to blend biofuels or buy credits from those who do.
Biofuel companies, farmers and Midwest lawmakers complained that the waivers undercut demand for corn, which is already slumping due to the U.S. trade war with China. Oil refiners say the waivers protect blue-collar jobs and have no real impact on ethanol use.
Senators from Iowa, the nation’s biggest ethanol producing state, welcomed the move.
“The President heard that message and has acted on it” Republican Senator Joni Ernst said in a statement. “Our message was clear: uphold the RFS —15 billion means 15 billion,” Ernst, who was instrumental in putting together the deal, said.
The rules, which will be finalized after a period of public comment, would “ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020,” the EPA said, without giving an exact number. Any changes to blending volume mandates for 2020 under the U.S. biofuel law, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), must be finalized by Nov. 30.
Before Friday's proposal, the EPA had called for the refining industry to add 20.04 billion gallons of biofuels, including 15 billion gallons of ethanol, into their fuel in 2020. The Trump administration had also already provided a boost to E15 earlier this year here by lifting an Obama-era ban on its sale during summer months.
While the move was largely welcome by biofuel groups, some industry players said they were concerned that the EPA declined to provide an exact figure for the 2020 blending quotas. A brief EPA call with reporters offered little insight, with an agency official saying only that the mandates will be based on a calculation of waived volumes over the previous three years.
Tim Gannon, a farmer from Iowa and a former official with the Department of Agriculture was skeptical.
“It is very much in question whether this gets done by 2020,” he said. “Every time the President makes a promise on the RFS, his EPA administrator manages to roll it back for Big Oil... The question now is will this time be any different?”
OIL INDUSTRY UPSET ...
Trump's Vague Plan to Boost Ethanol Has the Oil Industry Threatening to Sue
By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming
Agriculture.com - 10/7/2019
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.
Most farm groups and the ethanol industry praised President Trump for ensuring the Renewable Fuel Standard would be honored. “Fifteen billion [gallons] means 15 billion,” said Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. The oil industry said it would fight a change in rules for the 2020 RFS and hinted at lawsuits to block the initiative announced by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday.
The EPA is scheduled to finalize the 2020 RFS in November. It would set the corn ethanol target at 15 billion gallons. Ethanol groups and Corn Belt allies say the ethanol mandate effectively has been reduced because the EPA, particularly since Trump took office, has issued “hardship” waivers that retroactively exempt small-volume refineries from having to comply with the RFS.
“President Trump successfully negotiated an agreement on the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said the EPA. Under it, the EPA “will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020 … to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply … This will include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries. EPA intends to take final action on this front later this year.”
Additionally, the EPA said it would begin work to streamline labeling and remove barriers to sale of E15, a 15% blend of ethanol into gasoline. The traditional blend is 10%. Biofuel advocates...