Energy

Carl Icahn May Have Been Subpoenaed, But He Was Outmaneuvered By The Biofuels Lobby

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena for billionaire businessman Carl Icahn Wednesday over information about his attempt to steer the Trump administration toward reforming the biofuels program.

Icahn’s primary group, Icahn Enterprises, filed an SEC statement earlier this month showing that the U.S. Attorney is seeking information about “Mr. Icahn’s activities relating to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Mr. Icahn’s role as an advisor to the President.”

“We are cooperating with the request and are providing information in response to the subpoena,” the filing states. “The U.S. Attorney’s office has not made any claims or allegations against us or Mr. Icahn.”

Lawmakers accused Icahn earlier this year of using his working relationship with President Donald Trump to push a rule change to the renewable fuel program that would have benefited his refining business. His efforts to change the program were rendered moot after Trump decided to scuttle any proposed changes.

They allege that Icahn, whose Icahn Enterprises owns 82 percent of refiner CVR Energy, tried pushing Trump into removing the requirement that fuel refiners buy credits if they don’t blend enough biofuels.

CVR Energy accumulated a large short position in biofuel credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which refiners are required to purchase. CVR Energy would have profited greatly if the price of RINs tumbled.

Trump, like most of his Republican opponents, campaigned during the presidential election on maintaining the standard as a sop to Iowa farmers dependent on the high-priced corn-based fuel. But recent reports suggest that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chief Scott Pruitt is determined to slash RIN prices.

The White House ordered the EPA in October to hold off on changes to the biofuel mandate after Iowa lawmakers threatened to hold up a slew of agency nominees unless the administration assured them no changes would be made to the program.

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