EPA abandons changes to U.S. biofuel program after lawmaker pressure




  • In US
  • 2017-10-20 14:49:27Z
  • By By Jarrett Renshaw
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview for Reuters
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview for Reuters  

By Jarrett Renshaw

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has backed off a series of proposed changes to the nation's biofuels policy after a massive backlash from corn-state lawmakers worried the moves would undercut ethanol demand, according to a letter from the agency to lawmakers seen by Reuters.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in the letter dated Oct. 19 that the agency will keep renewable fuel volume mandates for next year at or above proposed levels, reversing a previous move to open the door to cuts.

The move marks a big win for the biofuels industry and lawmakers from corn-states like Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, while dealing a blow to merchant refiners like PBF Energy Inc and Valero Energy Corp who hoped the administration of President Donald Trump would help provide regulatory relief.

The letter could end uncertainty about the future of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard that has roiled commodity and energy markets for months. The program, which requires refineries to blend increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels into the nation's fuel supply or buy credits from those who do, appeared on the verge of a massive overhaul.

The most popular form of program credits hit two-month highs on Friday on the EPA news, traders said..

The so-called D6 credits sunk to 68 cents last month as EPA considered cost-cutting measures, but prices have rebounded in recent weeks and approached 90 cents on Friday, traders said.

Pruitt said the EPA would not pursue another idea floated by EPA leadership that would have allowed exported ethanol to be counted toward those volume quotas.

Pruitt also said the EPA did not believe a proposal to shift the biofuels blending obligation away from refiners was appropriate. That plan is backed by representatives of a handful of independent refining companies.

Those ideas would have eased the burden on some in the refining industry, who have argued that biofuels compete with petroleum, and that the blending responsibility costs them hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

But Midwestern lawmakers, including Republicans Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, had vocally opposed all those ideas, calling them a betrayal of the administration's promises to support the corn belt. They were concerned the moves would undercut domestic demand for ethanol, a key industry in the region that has supported corn growers.

"It's a great day for Iowa and a great day for rural America. Administrator Pruitt should be commended for following through on President Trump's commitment to biofuels," Grassley said in a statement.

In the letter, Pruitt said the EPA was prepared to work with Congress to examine the possibility of a waiver that would allow the sale of E15 gasoline, containing 15 percent ethanol, year-round - something currently not permitted during the summer due to concerns about smog.

Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Bob Dinneen said in a response to the letter on Friday morning that the U.S. ethanol industry was "grateful for Administrator Pruitt's epiphany on the road to the RFS."

The program disproportionately hurts mid-sized refiners and mom-and-pop gas stations that are the backbone of the nation's energy infrastructure and needs to reformed, said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Fueling American Jobs Coalition, a coalition of merchant refiners formed to seek changes in the program.

"If the administration follows the course set out in Administrator Pruitt's letter, manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states - jobs President Trump promised to protect - will be at risk," Blair said.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; writing by Richard Valdmanis and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Marguerita Choy)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Security experts, Trump allies alarmed by Omarosa recordings
Security experts, Trump allies alarmed by Omarosa recordings

Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman is drawing fire from President Donald Trump's allies and national security experts for secret recordings she made at the White House, including her firing by chief of staff John Kelly in the high-security Situation Room. Manigault Newman said

Omarosa says she secretly taped her firing, plays audio
Omarosa says she secretly taped her firing, plays audio

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) - Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman said Sunday she secretly recorded conversations she had in the White House, including her firing by chief of staff John Kelly in the high-security Situation Room. It was a highly unusual admission, which immediately drew fire from allies of the president.

Omarosa Says Trump Is
Omarosa Says Trump Is 'Truly A Racist,' Concedes Complicity In White House Deceit

Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Trump administration aide who is out with a new book about her experiences, discusses her dismissal by Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Rain pouring, Trump rages on Twitter and hangs with bikers
Rain pouring, Trump rages on Twitter and hangs with bikers

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) - As rain dumped on his golf club, President Donald Trump raged on Saturday, lashing out at his Justice Department on Twitter before welcoming members of a "Bikers for Trump" fan group to the manicured grounds.

One year after Charlottesville rally, Trump says he condemns all racism
One year after Charlottesville rally, Trump says he condemns all racism

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he condemns "all types of racism and acts of violence," appealing for unity ahead of the anniversary of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump drew strong criticism in the days after the Charlottesville rally last year

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.