Biofuels meeting set for White House March 12

Another meeting of oil and biofuels leaders to discuss Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, is set for March 12 at the White House, according to a report by Agri-Pulse.

Poet CEO Jeff Broin and Green Plains CEO Todd Becker, representing biofuels, as well as Valero CEO Joe Gorder and Monroe Energy CEO Jeff Warmann will represent oil interests, the Agri-Pulse report said.

The meeting will be the second White House meeting in three weeks to bring the sides together at the White House over what oil industry leaders see as the high costs of RINs, the credits used to measure compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard to ensure adequate levels of biofuels are blended with petroleum-based fuels.

At a March 1 meeting, President Donald Trump proffered the idea of a placing two-year cap on the price of RINs coupled with regulatory relief to allow summer sale of E15 to increase the number of available credits and expand the use of ethanol. According to a recent study by Iowa State University, a RIN cap would reduce ethanol demand by more than 750 million gallons and cost corn farmers as much as 25 cents per bushel.

In anticipation of the meeting, biofuel backers have been issuing statements urging the Trump administration to reject any caps on the price of RINs.

Growth Energy, which represents biofuel processing companies, said in a statement, “Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and a small group of oil refiners are attempting to dismantle the Renewable Fuel Standard through multiple ‘reforms’ that would have severe negative consequences for the ethanol industry, farmers and rural America—all while lining the pockets of a select few oil interests.

“Senator Cruz and his oil compatriots are attempting to paint a rosy picture in their campaign against America’s farmers, arguing that his RIN waiver scheme would mutually benefit refiners and the biofuels industry. In reality, Senator Cruz’s RIN waiver scheme would remove virtually all incentive for refiners to blend biofuels, putting the American heartland in jeopardy.”

In a release, National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes told Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that proposed changes to the RFS would trigger significant losses in farm income and in rural jobs. NCGA is opposed to an oil industry proposal that would cap the price of RINs. Skunes asked Perdue to ensure whether Trump understands the economic challenges farmers are facing.

“Corn farmers have fought hard the past 10 years, within Congress, with the last administration, and in the courts to protect the opportunity for renewable fuels to continue to grow as an option for consumers,” said Skunes. “Today, the president is considering a proposal from the oil industry that could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years.

“It is a deal that American farmers cannot afford. My message to the secretary today was to ask the president not to cap future growth and opportunity in rural America by implementing a bad policy that would only serve to bail out a small handful of oil refiners.”

The American Soybean Association also voiced strong opposition to a RIN cap. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a Keota, Iowa, farmer, said ASA has serious concerns with a cap on RIN prices.

“Placing any cap on the price of RINs is a misguided step that destroys demand for biodiesel and other renewable fuels. Analysis from the National Biodiesel Board and the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services shows up to 300 million gallons in biomass-based diesel volumes would be lost each year as these volumes would no longer be utilized for compliance with the RFS conventional biofuels requirements,” Heisdorffer said.

“Furthermore, this idea is simply unnecessary. The RFS program is working as intended; diversifying our nation’s fuel supply, increasing energy security, reducing fuel emissions and promoting markets for farmers and rural America. Action to cap RIN prices and undermine the RFS will exacerbate the economic damage to farm families like mine.

“Soybean farmers remember President Trump’s promise to protect the RFS, and imposing a cap on RIN prices would break that promise. We call on the president to reject this RIN cap concept and keep his word to protect the RFS.”

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or [email protected].