OMAHA (DTN) — After Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, caught wind of a set of proposals to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard, he contacted President Donald Trump.
Following a telephone conversation with the president, Grassley told agriculture journalists on Wednesday he was “very satisfied” with Trump’s position on biofuels.
Grassley confirmed on Wednesday that the president asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to meet with Grassley and other lawmakers at an Oct. 17 meeting.
Last week, the EPA announced in a notice a proposal to further reduce the renewable volume blend requirements for advanced biofuels, biomass-based diesel volumes for 2018 and 2019, and the total renewable fuel volumes in the RFS.
Secondly, a report surfaced last week that EPA is considering a proposal from Valero Energy to leave renewable identification numbers, or RINs, attached to U.S. ethanol gallons produced in the U.S. and exported. Currently, the credits are removed from exported gallons. The biofuels industry is concerned that doing so would flood the market with RINs and harm domestic biofuel producers.
“We need to build on the successes biofuels have already shown,” Grassley said. The proposals were a “bait and switch” that would “break Trump’s promise on biofuels,” he said.
Grassley said he’s unsure why there seems to be disconnect between the president and Pruitt on biofuels issues.
Throughout the presidential campaign and at a rally in Iowa, the president has continued to voice his support for biofuels. All the while, some of EPA’s actions on the RFS have raised concerns in rural America.
“It’s probably a lack of communication,” Grassley said.
Pruitt may be considering the proposals as a result of Valero and others approaching the agency, Grassley said, “and feeling he wasn’t hurting the biofuels industry.”
Grassley said he’s prepared to let Pruitt know about the concerns.
“There I will tell Administrator Pruitt the proposal is counter to what the president has pledged,” Grassley said.
“EPA should not undercut this president’s position. I’ll make sure EPA hears loud and clear the impact the proposals would have” on agriculture and biofuels, Grassley said.
Ethanol and agriculture groups have said in public statements that Pruitt’s actions would cater to the oil industry’s positions on the RFS.
Grassley said he can’t tell for sure there’s been communications between Pruitt and oil companies.
“Big oil may be accomplishing something at EPA they couldn’t get through Congress. We do know there are specific companies such as Valero that are very much involved in the proposal.”
Earlier this week, industry groups asked the president to reverse course on the EPA proposals.
“We are concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s consideration of drastic, unprecedented changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard that would undercut investments in the production of American-made biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel,” the groups said in a letter Tuesday.
“The proposed changes are inconsistent with the law and threaten the growth and prosperity of the U.S. biofuels industry.”
The letter is signed by the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, American Biogas Council, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, the Renewable Fuels Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.