Energy

GOP Lawmakers Confront Trump Over EPA’s Unworkable Biofuels Mandate

President Donald Trump will meet with a group of Republican lawmakers Thursday to discuss ways of addressing problems oil refiners have with the EPA’s biofuels mandate.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is among nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers prepared to confront Trump over his administration’s refusal to ratchet down the biofuel standard. They want to find a way to lessen the impact the standards have on oil refiners.

“President Trump will meet with senators today to discuss his commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and how to effectively address the program’s impact on independent refiners,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a press statement.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (or RFS) program requires refiners to blend ethanol and other biofuels into the country’s diesel and gasoline supply. Refiners must purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) if they do not participate in the program.

RINs costly prices are forcing some refiners to lay off employees. Industry insiders are pleading with the administration to endorse a policy that addresses those costs.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt floated various ideas to deal with the costs, but Trump scaled back the campaign to placate rural farmers in battleground states.

“The president understands the importance of the RFS to rural America,” Walters noted. “He is also aware that workers in the refining sector believe the program isn’t working as intended and should be improved to reduce their compliance burdens.”

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa threatened to scuttle various EPA nominees earlier this month after Pruitt suggested lowering the standards and allowing ethanol exports to count toward the total biofuel volume obligations for the year, which would would have driven down prices.

Grassley said he would hold up the nomination of Michael Dourson, who was picked to run the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Bill Wehrum, a former EPA official that Trump tabbed to run the agency’s air office.

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