White House Intervenes in RFS Conflict

White House Intervenes in RFS Conflict

June 6, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) It’s back to the drawing board after the Trump Administration delays an announcement on biofuel reform. 

On Tuesday, Iowa’s senators were reserving judgement on the President’s RFS strategy.

Senator Joni Ernst, (R) Iowa explained that “There was no agreement when we left the White House. There was a directive that was given by the President. He wants the issue resolved. So he said ‘E15 year round.’ Senators Cruz and Toomey pushed back on that, saying ‘It's not a win-win,’ so they want something else. So the proposal was made to allow RINs [Renewable Identification Number – a unique serial number assigned to a batch of biofuel for the purpose of tracking its production, use, and trading] to be attached to export ethanol, and we don't see that as a win-win. We see that as undermining domestic consumption.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, (R) Iowa, expressed concerns echoed by many lawmakers, who worry that the latter proposal could also lead to more trade trouble. “Attaching RINs to exports acts as a de facto export subsidy, so that could open up a whole bunch of retaliations from trading partners, and Canada would be a natural one to bring it up,” he predicted.

Grassley expects a forthcoming White House plan could fall short of upholding the spirit of the 15 billion gallon annual ethanol obligation, which he and Ernst say undermines President Trump’s promise to American farmers. But they say the EPA Administrator, not the President, is to blame.

“I am very frustrated with administrator Pruitt,” said Ernst. “How long Administrator Pruitt stays in his current position is up to the President, but I’d remind the President that Administrator Pruitt is undermining his promises – the President’s promises – to our American farmers.”

The President reportedly left details of the directive up to Ag Secretary Sonny Prdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Senators hope the USDA chief will ensure the final arrangement supports farmers as well as American consumers. 

“We want exports, but we want domestic consumption as well. That was one of the original intents: to support biofuels and move us away from relying heavily on other countries’ petroleum products,” states Ernst.

Both Iowa Senators have expressed skepticism on the EPA Administrator’s ability to carry out the President’s Agenda and fulfill the duties of his office. They have both suggested that, if the eventual RFS plan is inadequate, they will likely call for his dismissal. 

Though lawsuits have been filed by farm and ethanol advocates against the EPA for alleged violations of the Renewable Fuel Standard, lawmakers worry there’s not much more they can do. Ernst reiterated the RFS is already law, and the EPA is simply failing to follow it.
 

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