President Donald Trump delivered welcome news to supporters of the Renewable Fuel Standard on Thursday, confirming that the administration is seriously considering a waiver for year-round E15 sales.
Trump was delivering remarks in advance of a meeting with farm-state lawmakers and governors at the White House. Before the meeting officially began, Trump responded to a question about ethanol by affirming reports that he is interested in expanded E15 sales.
“We're going to raise it up to 15 percent,” Trump said. “We're going to go to 12 months, which makes a lot of farmers very happy … we'll go from eight months to 12 months."
The comment refers to the outcome desired by many in the biofuels industry to open up sales of E15 year-round rather than excluding the summer months, which is the current practice due to a Reid Vapor Pressure provision in existing law. The administration has been pushed to offer a waiver from the language blocking summer sales.
However, Trump also offered the qualifier that his comments were “no guarantee” and also made reference to a “two-year period of time where we will have a little bit of complexity while things are happening, while things are being built.” He didn’t expand on that comment, but reports from a meeting last month indicated Trump was pushing for a two-year cap on the price of Renewable Identification Numbers. That cap is vehemently opposed by pro-biofuels lawmakers and organizations, but refineries say it would reduce their cost of complying with the RFS.
“We’re going to be helping also the refineries, so the refineries are going to be doing much better,” Trump added. “Now, there are a lot of them that are not doing well, so we have to help refineries. So, we are very close to getting that done … and it’s coming along very nicely.”
The biofuels industry was quick to offer its support for the E15 comments. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the White House “clearly understands that RVP relief will expand a growing market for America’s farmers while letting consumers pick the fuel of their choice.”
American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings said RVP relief is “the quickest way to take pressure off RIN prices. E15 blending nationwide will increase ethanol blending, which will increase the supply of RIN credits and help bring down their price.”
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuel Standard, said that for the E15 shift to be beneficial, the Environmental Protection Agency must stop issuing hardship waivers that exempt small refineries from the requirements of the RFS.
“For that commitment to be fully realized, EPA Administrator (Scott) Pruitt must cease his campaign to destruct biofuel demand with unjustified waivers and other policies meant to undermine the RFS,” Dinneen said.
Trump made the comments before a meeting to discuss agriculture and trade issues. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and other administration officials were also in attendance.
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