President Donald Trump is open to changing the biofuel standard if it can be done without hurting oil refiners or the agricultural sector, lawmakers said Thursday after a meeting with the president.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Utah’s Mike Lee requested the meeting to argue the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, threatens to put oil refineries in their districts out of business. The Environmental Protection Agency’s final decision to avoid making any drastic changes to the standard did little to anger from corn or oil refiners.
“The group as a whole agreed with the president to reconvene next week and to expand the group and work together to find a (solution) that is a win for blue-collar workers, a win for jobs, but also a win for farmers at the same time,” Cruz told Fox News shortly after the meeting.
The 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.
Trump’s conciliatory message to Republicans at the meeting could lead to a change in policy, or more of the same. He was under intense pressure from Iowa Republicans to maintain the standard.
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.
Grassley said in October he would “hold the administration accountable” and “would oppose any effort to reduce blending levels or undermine the integrity of the RFS.”
Grassley suggested he is willing to 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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