Trump Urges Republican Lawmakers to Overcome Ethanol Differences

December 7, 2017 02:35 PM

President Donald Trump urged Republicans to settle their differences over the U.S. biofuel mandate at a White House meeting Wednesday with Ted Cruz and other senators critical of the requirement for ethanol use, according to lawmakers who attended.

“There wasn’t a resolution. It was we need to get to resolution,” said Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who attended the meeting.

Some senators are exploring the possibility of putting a cap on the price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs, the tradeable credits used to show compliance with annual biofuel quotas, said a lobbyist who was briefed on the meeting by participants. That could be paired with other changes to help ethanol and biodiesel producers, such as moves to build more renewable fuel blending infrastructure, the lobbyist said.

Cruz insisted on the meeting to discuss possible changes to the biofuel mandate before he will stop blocking a vote on Trump’s nomination of Iowan Bill Northey to be an undersecretary of Agriculture.

A White House official said the president understands the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to rural America, and also understands the objections of the oil refining sector about "compliance burdens." Trump planned to listen to the concerns of the senators with the hope of finding common ground on both sides of this debate, the aide said.

Key Trump administration officials were to attend, including Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the official. Eleven senators, including Cruz, were also scheduled to attend.

"There was a collective desire to continue the conversation with all of the stakeholders here in the Senate and the House -- the corn state, oil-and-gas state senators -- and with the help of the Cabinet try to come up with some sort of compromise everybody could support," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said after the meeting. "There’s some indication that the EPA administrator could have some authority with regard to the RIN prices, which are incredibly volatile."

Pruitt backed off proposals to ease mandates compelling the use of ethanol produced from corn and biodiesel from soybeans in transportation fuel after Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and other farm-state senators stalled at least one Trump EPA nominee.

Grassley said Wednesday that he didn’t plan to go to the White House meeting and that he’s not concerned. Grassley cited promises Trump made while campaigning ahead of the Iowa presidential caucuses to protect the renewable fuel standard and assurances he said the president had given him and his fellow Iowa senator, Joni Ernst.

“Not if the president keeps doing what he told the voters of Iowa, what he’s told me and Senator Ernst so many times: that he supports ethanol,” he said on conference call with reporters.

“Mr. Northey would not want to be confirmed if the president was going to compromise his views on ethanol, if that was the tradeoff,” Grassley said.

Several of the senators, led by Cruz, had requested the summit to discuss “a pathway forward” on renewable fuels that will save refining jobs and “unleash an American energy renaissance.”

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Spell Check

Senior PA Dairy Farmer
Westfield, PA
12/21/2017 09:28 AM

  Wayne Been busy. For the archives: You presume! I do NOT support government programs you mention. The government does its usual rotten job: screwing up private property and private enterprise by meddling in matters best left to the citizens to administer for themselves---in this case: (#1) DAIRY FARMERS (should be pricing their own milk because the government refuses to price it right, deliberately leaving out of the feds’ minimum milk pricing “formula” any way for dairy farmers to cover US farm “cost of production,” yet leaving in place dairy PROCESSOR “make allowances,” the entitlements served up by the co-opted feds and purposefully kept in the last “Farm” Bill to benefit dairy processors’ “cost of production” at the literal EXPENSE of the dairy farmers’ milk price---a huge injustice to dairy farmers! And this in spite of the politicians’’ eliminating DPPSP for your information!!! “Free cheese” is a publicity stunt to deflect public interest from underlying problems overwhelming dairy farmers. More cronyism “inside the beltway” DAIRY SWAMP, which is NOT being DRAINED at all but is getting thicker and stinkier under Trump!) and (#2) LOCAL parents, cafeteria staff, and school boards (why is government dictating how much butterfat kids should be allowed to drink in the milk at school? Everyone knows from the excellent Nina Teicholz NY Times bestseller The Big Fat Surprise that kids need full-fat milk for good health! Between anti-farmer government policies that have created a virtual rural welfare state with farmers left to depend on government “programs” that devalue their private property because farm product prices are artificially held way below US “cost of production” levels and the anti-farmer government schemes called “safety nets” that keep farmers in functional poverty to benefit commodity BUYERS and WORLD MARKET SPECULATORS, it’s no wonder headlines about opioid addiction and suicide epidemics in rural farm country have shocked America.

Senior PA Dairy Farmer
Westfield, PA
12/9/2017 12:50 PM

  Down the path AGAIN---ethanol and biodiesel special interests rearing their tainted political heads ---again! More meddling by the feds into private enterprise, picking their chosen winners and losers in the business sector, boldly and shamelessly “to help ethanol and biodiesel producers, such as moves to build more renewable fuel blending infrastructure, the lobbyist said.” A close-up view of corrupt life “inside the beltway,” with an iron fist from IA. Traditional grain users got the crap end of the stick the last time around with the “sweetheart deals” rigged ethanol program saddling grain buyers from animal agriculture with hyperinflation in purchased feed for livestock/dairy/poultry farmers/ranchers and victimized consumers in the grocery store, due to the mandate, the tariffs, and the cozy INDUSTRY tax breaks. Rip-off! Not one of the victims of this cronyism, --- taxpayers, livestock producers, or consumers---is included on the list of “stakeholders.” So much for representative government and the "free market." “Establishment,” business as usual politicians are looking out for their good 'ole boys in the Big Grain Lobby, to heck with those who have to "compete" with the Big Guys for the grain. The federal minimum milk pricing formula---by DESIGN---fails to allow dairy farmers to cover their “cost of production” at the farm, leaving them victims of inadequate federal scams called “safety nets,” like MPP “margin insurance,” another ploy to fleece dairy farmers and taxpayers. Goodbye private property! All hail federally protected SPECULATORS! Dairy farmers have NO FREE MARKET way to pay for the inevitable hyperinflation that shows up in the price of grain purchased in the corn-ethanol-soybean-biodiesel “fake” market. Like “fake” news---this “renewable energy” is all deception and lies. Shame on Mr. Trump, allegedly a “populist,” for supporting this scheme. So much for his promise to “drain the Swamp.” Looks like he is paddling in the swamp.

Fargo, ND
12/10/2017 04:42 AM

  Ok mister dairy farmer from PA, let's do away with the dairy program. No more price support, no more school lunch mandates, no more free cheese. Better be careful what you wish for.