Farm groups urge Trump not to weaken U.S. biofuel polic

(Reuters) – U.S. farm groups urged President Donald
Trump in a letter on Monday not to weaken the nation’s biofuels
policy requiring corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline,
calling it a critical engine of rural American jobs.

Trump is due to meet with senators and cabinet members on
Tuesday to discuss potential tweaks to the law, called the
Renewable Fuel Standard, that would help oil refiners who have
increasingly complained the program costs them a fortune.

“As you meet this week to discuss these issues, we ask that

you not entertain proposals that would undermine the purpose and
intent of the RFS,” according to the letter, signed by the heads
of six farm groups, including the National Corn Growers
Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Any action that seeks to weaken the RFS for the benefit of
a handful of refiners will, by extension, be borne on the backs
of our farmers,” according to the letter, a copy of which was
seen by Reuters.

The RFS requires oil refiners to cover the cost of blending
increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels into the
nation’s fuels each year. The policy was adopted during
President George W. Bush’s administration to help farmers, cut
petroleum imports and lower pollutant emissions.

Under the program, refiners must earn or purchase biofuel
blending credits called RINs to prove that they are complying.
As biofuels volume quotas have increased over the years, so have
prices for the credits – meaning refiners that must buy them are
facing rising costs.

Oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which

employs more than a thousand people in Philadelphia, declared
bankruptcy last month and blamed the regulation for its demise.
Reuters reported other factors may also have played a role in
the company’s bankruptcy, including the withdrawal of more than
$590 million in dividend-style payments from the refinery by its
investor owners.

Trump is due to discuss potential changes to the RFS on
Tuesday with Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Chuck
Grassley and Joni Ernst of corn state Iowa, along with
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt,
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and potentially Energy
Secretary Rick Perry, according to sources familiar with the
matter.

While a handful of proposals will be considered, the
sources said, past efforts to change the RFS have been stymied
by strong opposition by corn lobbyists.

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