Trump’s Effort To Appease Big Corn And Big Oil Is On the Verge Of Collapse

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A White House plan to reform the U.S. biofuel mandate appears to have collapsed, the latest sign that a compromise between farmers and oil refiners will not be reached.

The Trump administration’s expected announcement of changes to the American renewable fuel mandate has been indefinitely postponed, sources revealed to Bloomberg. The White House had been preparing to reveal “win-win” modifications to the mandate with the goal of reducing costs for refiners while widening the market for ethanol producers. Mounting pressure from the farm lobby, however, has forced the administration to give up the effort, at least for the time being.

Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst hailed the proposal’s failure on Twitter.

Refinery workers and corn farmers have battled for years over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a 2005 mandate requiring transportation fuel contain a certain amount of biofuels — typically corn-based ethanol. The standard has been great for corn growers because it increases demand for their product. However, oil refineries believe the mandate is costly and unnecessary, and a growing number of them have requested waivers from the RFS.

The fight has grown increasingly bitter. A coalition of different farm and ethanol groups sued the EPA in May over what they argue is the agency’s looseness in handing out RFS waivers. A group of oil workers held a press conference on Capitol Hill in April and called on the White House to act, arguing that the mandate was putting their jobs at risk. (RELATED: Big Corn Sues EPA For Exempting Refineries From Buying Ethanol)

The situation places President Donald Trump in a difficult position. Midwest farmers in Iowa and oil refiners in Pennsylvania are both major constituencies of the Republican president. A reluctance in disappointing either side has contributed to the stalemate.

“The president has heard the voices of hard-working union refinery workers that helped elect him,” Frank Maisano, a founding partner of a government relations firm who works with refiners, said in a statement published Wednesday. “We fully expect the president will deliver a common sense, win-win plan that provides new markets and opportunities for ethanol advocates and much-needed relief for refinery workers.”

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