Trump rejects RFS deal, fight for year-round E15 will continue

By Erin Voegele | June 06, 2018

On June 5, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, broke news that President Donald Trump has rejected a deal on the Renewable Fuels Standard that would have implemented year-round E15 availability, but also allowed renewable identification numbers (RINs) attached to exported biofuel volumes to be used to meet RFS compliance obligations. According to Grassley, rejection of the deal means the ethanol industry must continue to fight for year-round E15.

“Pres Trump helped farmers by rejecting bad ethanol deal. I appreciate. GREAT NEWS,” Grassley tweeted.

“[President Trump] has said he ‘looovves the farmers!’ #Iowa is feeling that love today, as the President just assured me he ‘won’t sign a deal that’s bad for farmers!’ Thank you, Mr. President!” Ernst tweeted.

Grassley held a media call elaborating on Trump’s action and explaining his support for Trump’s rejection of the RFS deal. “I thank President Trump for helping farmers by rejecting once and for all a proposal that would have undermined the RFS and really hurt ethanol,” Grassley said, noting he appreciates Trump’s commitment to not making any changes to the RFS that would hurt farmers.

Moving forward, Grassley said he will “continue to push for changes to the way the so-called hardship waiver process is implemented.” To date, waivers approved by U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have uncut the 15 billion statutory mandate for conventional biofuels, effectively rolling it back to 13.8 billion gallons, Grassley explained. “This all runs contrary to the spirit and letter of the RFS law,” he said.

According to Grassley, he will also continue his work in support of year-round E15 sales. While the White House’s RFS deal initially looked like a victory for ethanol due to its inclusion of year-round E15 availability, Grassley indicated that the positive benefits of Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15 wouldn’t have been enough to offset damage caused by allowing exports to count towards annual blending quotas. “That’s why the deal would have been a net loss, and that’s why I’m glad the president rejected it for good,” Grassley said.

The American Coalition for Ethanol has spoken out to thank Grassley and Ernst for their role in convincing Trump to reject the RFS deal.

“ACE extends our gratitude to Republican and Democratic Senators, especially Iowa Senators Grassley and Ernst, for convincing the White House not to proceed with changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “We appreciate the President in this case sided with farmers over oil refiners and EPA Administrator Pruitt. We also thank our grassroots members who contacted their Members of Congress and the White House.

“Granting RVP relief for E15 in exchange with export RIN credits for refiners would have unquestionably been a loss for rural America and consumers because the benefits of selling E15 year-round would have been wiped out by export RINs,” Jennings continued.

“Where does this leave us today?

“The President has promised to allow E15 use year-round but EPA has failed to make good on his promise,” Jennings said. “Meanwhile, EPA’s misuse of the RFS has resulted in at least 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol demand destruction through small refinery waivers which have driven RIN values down by more than 70 percent this year. ACE has joined with allies to litigate the ‘hardship’ waivers but damage has already been done as ethanol blending is down despite the fact that gasoline use is on the rise.  Weneed EPA to follow through on the President’s promise that E15 use will be allowed year-round and to stop the secret refinery waivers. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to grow demand for ethanol.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has also spoken out in support of Trump’s rejection of the RFS deal. "We are happy the President continues to recognize the importance of our industry to America’s farmers and rural economies across the nation,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “We look forward to working with the Administration to remove regulatory barriers to continued growth."

Growth Energy thanked Trump, Grassley and Ernst for standing up for rural America. “At a time when farmers are facing the most challenging farm economy since the 1980’s, we thank President Trump, Sec. Perdue, and Senators Grassley and Ernst for standing firm for rural America,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. We look forward to refocusing this conversation towards ways to help improve farm income and expand access to lower cost biofuels, which will benefit drivers facing higher prices at the pump.”