Trump hosts industry meeting on RFS, no deal reached

By Erin Voegele | March 01, 2018

On March 1, President Trump met with a variety of stakeholders from the biofuels and refining industries to continue the discussion on the Renewable Fuel Standard and renewable identification numbers (RINs). The event followed a Feb. 27 meeting in which Trump met with Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss the RFS and RINs. No deal on the biofuels program was reached at either meeting.

“Both sides made their case and the only agreement was to look at economic studies for impact,” Grassley said following the March 1 meeting. “No decisions were made. Low corn prices are already squeezing farmers’ bottom lines. If the RFS were undermined with a RIN price cap or waiver, that would be made even worse. Thousands of jobs in rural America could be lost. An emerging solution appears to be year-round E15, which would drive down RIN prices. After crossing the 15 billion gallon a year threshold, RIN prices would drop dramatically and remain low. And studies prove it.”

Several representative of the biofuels industry have spoken out following the March 1 meeting, stressing the need for continued support of the RFS and advocating for year-round E15 availability as a way to lower RIN prices while maintaining the integrity of the RFS.

“We are grateful to the President for giving Growth Energy’s board members an opportunity to set the record straight about the importance of biofuels to our economy and the livelihood of America’s hard-working farmers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The President very clearly understands that the path forward is to allow sales of E15 year-round, promote growth, and put more RINs on the market. The RFS gives homegrown biofuels a chance to compete at the pump, helping to protect consumers from price manipulation and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the heartland.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol noted that ACE board member Rick Schwarck, president and CEO of Absolute Energy, and Iowa retailer Charlie Good were among those in attendance at the White House meeting. “We are grateful Rick and Charlie were invited by Senators Grassley and Ernst to help explain the importance of the RFS to rural America and U.S. motorists in today’s White House meeting,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “They explained how RVP relief for E15 would immediately reduce RIN prices but also conveyed that capping RINs would destroy demand for renewable fuels and raise pump prices for consumers.  We thank Rick and Charlie for their grassroots leadership and Senators Grassley and Ernst for their strong support.”

Jeff Broin, CEO of Poet, also attended the meeting. “It’s clear from this conversation that another refinery bailout is more important to Sen. Cruz and the EPA than the economic crisis facing Midwest voters at the moment,” he said. “Nothing new was discussed in this meeting. Removing accountability from oil companies would deprive millions of Americans the freedom to choose less expensive, homegrown biofuels and imperil countless jobs and family farms across America’s heartland. I want to thank the President for the opportunity to share the story of how our industry fuels the economic engine of the Midwest. In November, 119 counties there flipped Republican based on President Trump’s commitment to rural economic growth and strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. This issue will continue to play out. We will protect interests of this industry, farmers and consumers.”

“We appreciate that President Trump took time to sit down with leaders from the ethanol and gasoline marketing industries, including RFA members, to discuss important issues related to the RFS and the rural economy,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “We continue to believe the appropriate response to unfounded concerns about renewable identification number (RIN) prices is to expand ethanol use by providing RVP parity, allowing E15 and higher blends to be sold year round. We are pleased today’s conversation focused positive attention on this important issue. We look forward to continued discussions with the White House and welcome additional opportunities to explain why Sen. Ted Cruz’s notion to cap the price of RINs would be disastrous for the ethanol industry, farm economy, and American consumers.”

“It’s clear that refineries are trying to drive a wedge between President Trump and farm families,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. “And they plan to keep pushing a RIN cap that would throw the RFS into chaos and destroy any hope of revitalizing farm income under the Trump administration. That’s not going to happen, but the President seemed to fully appreciate how easily lifting regulations on E15 sales could pour RINs into the market, which promotes growth on all sides. That is what rural America wants to see, and the president is going to keep hearing it in every conversation with those who care about farm families and workers at over 200 biorefineries coast-to-coast.”

“Retailers want to offer our customers options, including lower-cost, higher-octane ethanol blends,” said Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of Sheetz. “An RVP waiver lifts needless regulations on retailers, generates growth opportunities for American farmers, and makes more RINs available to refiners. The President is looking for a solution that is a win for everyone--farmers, refiners, and consumers—and I think being able to sell E15 year-round meets that goal.”