Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says President Donald Trump will announce changes to how the government issues biofuel mandate waivers to small refineries.
Perdue declined to offer a timeline or specifics on the announcement, telling a roundtable audience at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., he would leave that up to the president.
“There will be good news coming out on the RFS,” Perdue said. “We’re working really hard to mitigate that as much as possible. I don’t want to steal the president’s thunder on that. I think he wants to announce that himself.”
While Perdue did not offer details, he did mention a Tuesday meeting among officials from EPA, USDA, and the Department of Energy. He said he’s pushing for improved infrastructure to allow for faster growth of higher-blend sales and also trying to convince EPA to use a data set showing the short-term impact of the waivers.
“We can grow ourselves out of this if we give the customer the choice between E15 and E10,” he said.
The issue has proven to be politically charged in farm country as producers of biofuels and the feedstocks used to make them say the waivers undercut demand for their products. Refiners disagree, leading to vocal stalemates everywhere from the Oval Office to social media.
Marquis Energy CEO Mark Marquis told Perdue during the roundtable session that some of the proposed fixes would fall short in farm country. He said reallocating waived gallons would be the best way to appease a frustrated rural America.
“I don't think that when you waive 31 SREs, that just some (flex fuel vehicles) or some infrastructure money is going to correct the problem and keep agriculture squarely behind the president,” he said.
Perdue has also been criticized for playing a role in the discussions at all. In June, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy put a hold on three USDA nominees to express his frustration over Perdue’s role in the SRE debate, but Perdue says actions like that haven’t changed his approach.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to stop me from advocating on behalf of farmers right to the oval office,” Perdue told reporters after the roundtable. “They’ve got the same ability to go in there, but to try to hold up our appointments and do things like that, it’s not going to change what I say on behalf of farmers.”
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