Leaders of several biofuel companies told Trump administration officials at a White House meeting Wednesday that they need to make up for ethanol usage that is exempted by future refinery waivers, sources told Agri-Pulse.
Officials from the National Economic Council met with representatives of Ag Processing Inc., Renewable Energy Group, Louis Dreyfus and other companies. No trade associations were invited to the meeting, and sources said White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney did not attend.
Officials with several refiners were scheduled to meet with White House officials later in the day.
In the biofuel industry meeting, there was some discussion of limiting the number of small refinery exemptions that are issued, but NEC officials said they were concerned about the blend wall and how to manage 1.5 billion gallons of annual SREs. NEC officials also questioned why a White House proposal developed last week was unacceptable.
Last Friday’s deal, the details of which were shared with Agri-Pulse, would include language to include the 500 million gallons called for in a 2017 court case, an additional 500 million gallons in biofuel mandate compliance credits in the upcoming blending requirements, and a 250-million-gallon boost to the biodiesel blending targets for 2021, and other approaches meant to calm the frustrations of renewable energy advocates in rural America.
Biofuels advocates said in the meeting Wednesday that “no one is helped if RVOs (renewable volume obligations) are increased today and then taken away again in six months with SREs," a source said.
One company representative who was present told Agri-Pulse afterward, “Can’t share anything other than that the industry remains remarkably aligned.”
The National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board, and Fuels America issued a joint statement that said:
“We remain hopeful that President Trump will move swiftly to protect farmers and biofuel workers, but efforts to reverse the damage will be meaningless unless the agency acts now to stop the bleeding and accurately account for lost gallons from this point forward, beginning in the 2020 biofuel targets. Rural communities across America are counting on this administration to uphold the president’s commitment to biofuels and restore integrity to the RFS.”
Biofuel groups were angered last month when President Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to grant 31 SREs to oil companies. Just weeks before, Trump touted his strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard while announcing E15 would be sold year around moving forward. Previously, E15 was only able to be sold between September and May.
After Trump discovered farmers were outraged, he convened a huddle with cabinet officials from EPA and USDA in late August to work out their differences. A memo summarizing that meeting listed five actions, four of which were agreed upon. The one that was not was redistribution of gallons lost to SREs.
Administration officials would like to see some sort of deal reached by Friday.
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