RFS White House Meeting Rumored

Biofuel Groups Say They Haven't Been Invited to RFS Meeting Reportedly Called by Trump

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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For the second time in a little more than a year, lawmakers from ethanol and oil states may soon meet at the White House to talk about changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- President Donald Trump has invited federal lawmakers at the center of the Renewable Fuel Standard debate to a meeting at the White House next Tuesday to discuss potential reform, Reuters reported on Thursday. So far, though, DTN has not been able to confirm such a meeting is scheduled, and representatives of biofuel groups contacted by DTN said they have not received an invitation to participate.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held a rally with employees at the now-bankrupt Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery. He called for reform to the RFS, after PES alleged in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that $832 million in costs to comply with the RFS was the reason for its demise.

During that rally, Cruz said biofuels groups had "refused" to meet with him and other members of Congress to talk about potential changes to the RFS.

Reuters reported the meeting was confirmed by "four sources familiar with the matter." That report said Cruz; Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; President Trump; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt; and others were slated to meet to discuss ways to change the law.

Michael Zona, communications director for Grassley, told DTN, "As of now, we don't have any comment." Ernst's office had not responded to DTN's request for comment at the time this article was posted.

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When contacted by DTN, representatives from the White House and USDA would not confirm such a meeting. "It's a little bit premature at this point," the White House said in a statement.

Two biofuels groups contacted by DTN said they have not been invited to such a meeting.

"We are not invited," said Jenni Roberson, director of communications and public affairs at Growth Energy. "To our knowledge, there is no industry representation invited at this time."

Katie Fletcher, communications director at the American Coalition for Ethanol, told DTN, "To our knowledge, no industry organization, ethanol or oil, has been invited to the meeting."

If such a meeting takes place, it would be the second gathering at the White House for Cruz, Grassley and others focused on the RFS.

In addition, the Washington Examiner reported this week that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is circulating a bill to reform the RFS.

In December 2017, Cruz and other Republicans were granted a White House meeting on the RFS with the president and members of his cabinet. That meeting reportedly included Pruitt. The president reportedly told all sides to work out their differences on the RFS.

Prior to EPA's release of the final 2018 RFS volumes that same month, Pruitt had a number of meetings with lawmakers from the Midwest regarding their concerns about potential changes to the law. The meeting resulted in Pruitt announcing in a letter to lawmakers that the RFS volumes would not be cut and other changes would not be made to the law.

Before the December meeting at the White House, Cruz said he was putting a hold on the nomination of Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey as USDA undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services until the president granted the meeting. But despite having the meeting, Cruz continues his grip on Northey's nomination.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


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Todd Neeley