Trump's biofuel support to be tested with oil-friendly EPA

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2016 - Trump's early interest in the ethanol industry is giving biofuels supporters a strong sense of confidence heading into the next administration. Before he had even announced his candidacy, Trump toured Iowa ethanol plants and spoke in no uncertain terms about his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and the state's two U.S. senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, were early, vocal supporters of Trump, helping him carry that swing state, and they're certain to push his administration to boost biofuel mandates.

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Ethanol groups Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) say they are confident that president-elect Donald Trump will support ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In separate statements, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor and Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen say they look forward to working with the new administration - each noting Trump's oft-expressed backing for ethanol and the RFS.

“President-elect Trump has publicly supported the Renewable Fuel Standard throughout his campaign, and consistently opposed any efforts to roll back this policy,” says Skor. “In fact, the RFS was one issue where both candidates found common ground, and we applaud their recognition of the importance that biofuels like ethanol play in fueling our country.”

Skor calls the RFS “our nation's most successful energy policy” and says Growth Energy will work with the Trump administration to continue expanding market access for biofuels including E15.

Dinneen says he'll work with the new administration to remove “unnecessary volatility restrictions that have discouraged market acceptance of higher level ethanol blends” and which have “created unreasonable administrative burdens” on gasoline marketers willing to offer these fuels to consumers.

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Dinneen adds that RFA is also eager to work with the new administration on “myriad trade challenges that the U.S. ethanol industry currently faces.

“A core principle of the Trump campaign has been putting America first and more aggressively pursuing fair trade agreements that recognize the value of American products,” Dinneen says.

But President Obama also backed the RFS as a senator and as a candidate, and it took a lawsuit to force his EPA to release the annual volumetric requirements on time. Trump's EPA is likely to get as much pressure as Obama's to hold down the mandates. Oil refiners are likely to have more influence with Trump's EPA than Obama's, and Trump's EPA transition leader is Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic who has been critical of the RFS. 

Tim Cheung, a biofuel industry analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, said in an email to Agri-Pulse that Trump could use his waiver authority more broadly than Obama has, potentially leading to “lower conventional and advanced biofuel targets under the RFS.”

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