Energy

EPA’s Biofuel Standard Leaves Oil Lobby Jilted And King Corn Disappointed

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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Chris White Tech Reporter

The oil industry and biofuel supporters groused about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision Thursday to leave the renewable fuel standard largely untouched after months of haggling about the targets.

Chet Thompson, president of another oil and gas trade group, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, trashed the EPA’s finalized rule, telling reporters Friday that the “EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to King Corn.”

Thompson was referring to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s threats to scuttle a slew of President Donald Trump’s nominees for EPA roles over concerns the administration was considering cutting the standard.

“Plenty of senators” are considering opposing Trump EPA picks, unless the agency backs off a plan to dial down the renewable fuel standard, said Grassley, of Iowa, in October. Other Midwestern state lawmakers joined his campaign.

“Hold up EPA nominees. I think there’s plenty of senators would do that,” Grassley told reporters at the time when asked how he planned to hold EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Trump to the fire.

Even Grassley was not enthused about the EPA’s decision Thursday to keep the mandate mostly unchanged.

The agency didn’t cave into demands from biofuel producers to raise targets. “Renewable volume obligations fall short of the full potential of the U.S. biofuels industry,” Grassley said in a statement following the announcement.

“The lack of increase for biodiesel levels and the cut in cellulosic level requirements,” he noted, referring to the EPA’s final standard, that requires the oil industry to mix 288 million gallons standard into its fuel. The agency proposed a smaller standard in July of 238 million gallons.

Trump eventually ordered the agency to hold off on changes in late October amid the political backlash. It appears the back-peddling and acquiescing did little to satisfy any of the sides involved in the pitched battle.

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