Cruel Summer

A series of unfortunate events this summer—all caused by U.S. government action or inaction—has led to a precarious situation in the biodiesel sector, but there may be a silver lining.
By Ron Kotrba | September 30, 2019

Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer was at her parents’ house in Sherrill, Iowa—a small town north of Dubuque that “has more cows than people,” she says—when she got news that the U.S. EPA had just granted another 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard. It was Aug. 9 and Congress was on summer recess. “I was outside looking at neighboring farms when I saw the tweet,” she tells Biodiesel Magazine. “It broke my heart. It shouldn’t be happening this way. I don’t understand why the process is working the way it is. It sounds like it isn’t a process at all. I know firsthand this is taking a large toll on the livelihood of my neighbors, farmers, and it’s affecting the future of my state. I will continue to uplift their voices through all of this—the SREs, the lack of a biodiesel tax credit extension, the ongoing trade war. I will make sure they’re heard.”

The volume of SREs granted has exploded during the Trump administration, with 85 SREs approved to date for compliance years 2016-’18, equating to approximately 4.04 billion renewable identification numbers (RINs). In comparison, the EPA under President Obama approved only 23 SREs for compliance years 2013-’15, accounting for a combined 690 million RINs. Trump’s EPA approved 35 percent more SREs in one day—Aug. 9—than all the SREs approved by Obama’s agency. This from a president whose political base is rural America and who campaigned on upholding the RFS.

“You need to understand,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tells Biodiesel Magazine, “Trump’s the only one in the White House who cares about biofuels. He’s the only one who understands anything about the industry. It’s fair to say he doesn’t understand all the details—he leaves that to the EPA—but EPA is not enforcing the law. That’s the worst thing—when you have someone in the White House who is supportive but those in his administration are not carrying out the president’s direction.”

As that fateful August decision was announced, U.S. biodiesel producers entered the 20th month without the blenders tax credit—the longest lapse since the important incentive first went into effect in 2005. For five years, the tax credit was successful in helping grow the biodiesel industry before RFS2, the second installment of the RFS passed in 2007 that included advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel whose implementation finally began July 1, 2010.

Unfortunately for biodiesel producers, the tax credit expired for the first time on Jan. 1, 2010, in what was to become the first of many expirations, with each lapse getting longer, and with each renewal becoming harder to secure. Retroactive repayments replaced forward-looking instruments to spur investment. It’s hard to say how many billions of gallons of domestic capacity this sector might have achieved, and how many greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions averted, if these two policies alone—the RFS and the blenders tax credit—were consistently applied together and implemented as the law intended. The closest, most recent example of this positive dynamic was 2016.

In late 2015, the tax credit was reinstated retroactively to Jan. 1, 2015, and forward through Dec. 31, 2016. On Nov. 30, 2015, after two years without RVOs in place when the RFS program fell seriously off-track, the EPA released its final 2014-’17 RVOs for biomass-based diesel and its final 2014-’16 RVOs for the overall advanced biofuel category, and both were higher than the proposal released the previous May. The agency also vowed to continue increasing biomass-based diesel RVOs in years to come. The final RVOs for biomass-based diesel were 1.63 billion gallons for 2014, 1.73 billion gallons for 2015, 1.9 billion gallons for 2016, and 2 billion gallons for 2017. The advanced biofuels RVOs also increased slightly for 2015 and 2016. With these positive signals of a forward-looking tax credit and steadily increasing RVOs, the U.S. market for biomass-based diesel mushroomed, growing more than 800 million gallons in a year.

While 2016 was a good year, domestic producers were unable to fully realize this as imports from Indonesia and Argentina flooded the U.S., seizing approximately one-third of the market. In addition, renewable diesel imports from Singapore soared. As a result, the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition initiated a long review process with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission that it eventually won, establishing stiff countervailing duties (CVDs) against both nations in the antisubsidy trade case and equally severe antidumping duties in 2018. The measures halted imports of what the trade coalition effectively argued was unfairly traded biodiesel.

The trade measures, while technically sound, were a political no-brainer for the then-newly elected U.S. president, Donald Trump, who campaigned on a platform of “Make America Great Again” by rebalancing unfair trade relationships, incentivizing domestic manufacturing, upholding the RFS, and elevating farmers and rural America—his political base. When the commerce department announced this July that it had reached a preliminary determination to significantly reduce the CVDs against Argentina after an unprecedented “changed circumstances review” (CCR) so shortly after the tariffs went into effect, it left U.S. biodiesel stakeholders scratching their heads in utter wonder. This was only the beginning, however, as just two days later, the EPA released its 2021 RVO proposal for biomass-based diesel.

Amidst significant demand destruction that the agency had caused under the Trump administration’s relatively short tenure, the EPA proposed to stall the 2021 biomass-based diesel RVO at 2.43 billion gallons, the same as the RVO for 2020 set in late 2018. Under this scenario of rampant SREs being granted, a stalled RVO would be, in effect, a severe cut to the standard considering EPA has yet to account for its voluminous SREs granted hitherto. The U.S. ethanol and biodiesel industries had already been dealing with an inordinate number of SREs granted under the Trump administration, which were the subject of numerous lawsuits, complaints, calls for investigations and legislative action for quite some time. The questionable process in which the SREs are granted, the lack of estimations of SREs to be granted in RVO proposals, and the agency’s thumbing its proverbial nose at the idea of reallocating waived gallonage had all been taking its toll on biofuel producers. When it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, and as soybean farmers endured a long and market-destroying trade war with China that eroded the U.S. soybean complex’s No. 1 relationship, on Aug. 9, the EPA approved its largest and most destructive set of SREs—31 in one fell swoop.

A week after the Aug. 9 SRE announcement, World Energy—one of the largest biodiesel producers in North America—announced it was halting production at three of its biodiesel plants in Georgia, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. “If anyone was still living with the delusion that this administration supported us, then this round of SREs was an unignorable wake-up call,” Gene Gebolys, founder and CEO of World Energy, tells Biodiesel Magazine. “The president made promises to uphold the RFS and then he made that decision to eviscerate it. We’ll get through this, but I am not sure the administration’s credibility will.”

Tax Credit
In November 2018, U.S. voters elected around 90 new members to the House of Representatives—the “freshman class”—installing in January the most diverse body in the history of the chamber. As a result, Democrats regained control of the House, solidifying a  more youthful, progressive contingent to the party whose No. 1 goal, ostensibly, is to act on climate change. A month after being sworn in, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, introduced “The Green New Deal,” a framework to slash carbon emissions and avert what many Democrats label an “existential crisis.” The proposal has been characterized as ambitious and bold, and it could revolutionize the U.S. economy while upending the status quo in major sectors of power generation, transportation, construction and more. Republicans, who control the Senate, are not biting.

With the progressive, often urban Democrats in a political stalemate with the more rural, conservative Republicans, there should be overwhelming bipartisan support for the blenders tax credit. Yet it has remained lapsed for 20-plus months, despite both the House and Senate having introduced virtually identical legislation to reinstate the incentive. “It expired on the Trump administration’s watch when we had a Republican House and Senate,” says Finkenauer, one of the freshmen class that makes up more than a fifth of the House. “I’ve made it my mission to reinstate it, and I’m working across the aisle for bipartisan and bicameral support.” In April, Finkenauer introduced “The Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act,” a two-year extension retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2019. “Grassley has a matching bill in the Senate,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what the party affiliation is, all should be supportive of this and I’m working really hard on getting this done.” She says the House ways and means committee is paying attention too, as they marked up a package that includes a three-year extension of the credit. “The time to act is now,” she says. “The uncertainty has a direct impact on the folks and communities in my district. Rural Iowa is being hit hard from the ongoing trade war with China and the SREs. With the low demand [for farm products] from the trade war, we need to get this done now.”

Congress grew accustomed to the normal process of dealing with tax extenders after the fact, according to Kurt Kovarik, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “That became the norm,” he tells Biodiesel Magazine. “It became something that didn’t have to be done on time and could be done retroactively, unfortunately. That, coupled with the new Congress after the majority in the House flipped, and with so many new members, it has become a very long process to educate them on what extenders are, why Congress always acted on them, and what the tax credit means for our industry in terms of growth, certainty and the ability to produce renewable fuels from byproducts. Those situations have led to where we are today, plus heighted partisanship around tax policy in general, following the tax legislation the Republican Congress passed in late 2017. The way this was handled left a bad taste in the mouths of Democrats, particularly for the new ones, who felt it was an unjust process and tax bill. We’ve been wading through all this for months. Now, with a three-year extension marked up in ways and means, we’re close, but it’s been longer than we’d hoped for.”

It’s still unclear why, in a House controlled by Democrats strongly in favor of curbing climate change, a policy such as the blenders tax credit, which is proven to incentivize increased production and use of biodiesel—a fuel that reduces GHG emissions by up to nearly 90 percent compared to petroleum diesel—remains in limbo. “We entirely agree,” Kovarik says. “We’ve been trying to convey that. There are enormous aspirations to do big things, and while they’re trying to accomplish those, they are unfortunately harming one existing policy whose goals get them where they’re trying to go. It’s a process of educating them. Many don’t know what biodiesel is. We are trying to convince them that there are achievable policies in the near-term they can act on to move the needle in the direction they want to go. The tax credit is very low-hanging fruit that’s right in front of them.”

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans who serve more rural, agriculture-oriented constituents should be rushing to reinstate the credit to provide relief to soybean farmers suffering from market destruction as the U.S. and China play tit for tat in a power struggle to shape the future of global trade. “I’ve been to Washington, D.C., seven times this year,” Rob Shaffer, chairman of the American Soybean Association’s transportation and infrastructure committee, tells Biodiesel Magazine. Shaffer is a farmer from El Paso, Illinois. “I would have been there eight times, but I was planting soybeans and burning B20 while putting my crop in. The expired tax credit is hurting a lot of folks. Between the trade war with China and no tax credit, the uncertainty is killing the industry.” In 2017, China was the top market for U.S. soybeans, accounting for $14 billion in sales, 61 percent of total exports and nearly one-third of total U.S. soybean production. “Now we’re sitting on 900 million bushels of soybeans,” Shaffer says. “It took 25 years to build this relationship, and it could take less than two years to destroy it.”

NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen says it’s not just biodiesel producers that benefit directly from the tax credit. “Downstream blenders and distributors get a piece of it,” he tells Biodiesel Magazine. “And because it’s been in place for such a long time, everyone expects it to come back. For nearly two years, biodiesel producers have been selling at prices that assumed the dollar in the equation. This is why we’re seeing plants closing and scaling back production—there’s not enough cash to keep that activity going. From the standpoint of fairness to our industry, Congress needs to act. Producers are at the end of cash reserves to make those transactions keep happening. We can talk about how to make the policy better in the long run to be sensitive to investments the government is making, but we need to get this done—and soon.”

Gebolys says, “Many market participants are simply reaching their saturation point for the blenders tax credit risk. The biodiesel tax credit market is less a reflection of what people think will happen and more a function of the fact that most folks with an appetite for the tax credit have already eaten their fill.” 

A week after World Energy announced it was closing three plants, Kolmar Americas Inc. announced it was cutting production by half at its recently expanded 40 MMgy American GreenFuels plant in New Haven, Connecticut, starting in the fourth quarter. “The importance of the biodiesel tax credit is critical,” Raf Aviner, president of Kolmar Americas, tells Biodiesel Magazine. “In the past, it helped expand our production capacity and business development, investments in technology and projects that would further enhance the industry. But since Scott Pruitt”—the former EPA administrator who was replaced with Andrew Wheeler—“began handing out SREs like Smarties at Halloween, the market has been plummeting and cash needs to be returned to this industry through a retroactive tax credit extension. None of us went into business thinking we would be dependent on the tax credit. But it’s become this because the SRE situation has essentially put production in such negative territory, the tax credit is the only way for us to recoup the money we laid out. It’s not that we can’t live without the tax credit—it was not a lifeline originally—it has just become that. Once EPA administers the RFS in such a way that is consistent with Congress’ intent and returns to normal interpretation that we’ve enjoyed for years prior to this administration, I think the biodiesel tax credit will be once again be used to enhance plants, technologies and infrastructure, which it was created for.”

Although progressive Democrats on the Hill are pushing for climate change policies, Republicans are reticent to move in this direction, particularly when the tone setter is a president who says climate change is a hoax propagated by the Chinese. But Robert Morton, an NBB director and chairman of Newport Biodiesel, says public sentiment is reaching a tipping point on climate change and GHG emissions. “You see this when you get away from Washington, D.C.,” he tells Biodiesel Magazine. “In Rhode Island, it’s huge, and likewise elsewhere all around the country and the world—except in D.C. And even they will get there eventually, but it’ll take time. If we don’t face it now, it’ll be too late. Biodiesel is a great opportunity to create fuel to help that problem. It’s very frustrating to see road blocks to what’s an obvious solution that is available now to help combat climate change.”

“The world is waking up to the need for a lower-carbon future and we are an important part of the transition to that,” Gebolys says. “We need to do a better job of controlling what we can control and pushing forward to building a better industry doing more to contribute to a better world.” 

One would think passing the biodiesel tax credit in Congress would be “a layup,” Shaffer says. “But it’s not. D.C. politics don’t favor the Midwest. We’re trying to tell our story and get movement on it. This is a hell of a good industry. Sixty-five cents of every bushel of soybeans is derived from biodiesel.”

Grassley says he thinks the tax credit extension will be renewed, but it needs to be put on a must-pass appropriations or end-of-session omnibus bill to get it done. “If that’s possible, then when Pelosi and McConnell and Schumer and McCarthy put out a package, I expect the biodiesel tax credit to be in it,” he says. “I will push for the biodiesel tax credit. But there’s also the short line railroad tax credit (45G) and 25 others that expired at the same time, plus five others that are going to expire at the end of this year. Some of these tax credits ought to be permanent law, and the biodiesel tax credit should be an example of that.”

Trade
The U.S. commerce department’s November 2018 decision to initiate a CCR of tariffs on Argentine biodiesel led to a preliminary determination announced this July to significantly reduce CVDs while leaving the dumping tariffs in place. One of the main reasons the duties were imposed on Argentine biodiesel was because of the price-distorting effect on global markets from the nation’s differential export tax (DET) scheme, which the Argentine government employs to incentivize domestic soybean processing. The DETs placed higher export taxes on whole beans and much lower taxes on soy biodiesel.

Argentina’s government requested the CCR after it made four legislative decrees that narrow the export tax differential between biodiesel and soybeans. Myles Getlan of Cassidy Levy Kent says it’s worth noting that, over the years, Argentina has routinely made changes to its export tax regime.

“Even in the commerce department’s underlying investigation, they cited a dozen different export tax decrees just related to soybeans and biodiesel over the years,” Getlan tells Biodiesel Magazine. “One point we made to the department is, why make changes to the duties based on a few new measures when Argentina routinely changes its export taxes?” Moreover, Getlan says if the preliminary determination to reduce CVDs becomes final, there’s nothing to stop Argentina from changing the taxes back to further broaden the differential. “With political developments in Argentina and the prospect of a new administration soon, one could expect further updates to the tax regime,” he says.

Argentina President Mauricio Macri, a longtime friend of Trump, is likely to face defeat this fall to Alberto Fernandez, who is described as a leftist populist. Some suggest the U.S. government initiated the CVD review as a favor from Trump to Macri, to help him win reelection and stay in office. Others suggest much more lucrative, personal reasons, such as helping the Trump Organization with real estate deals in Buenos Aires. Trump’s own words taken from a U.S. Embassy Argentina press release from Nov. 30, 2018, shed light on their relationship. The speech was given before the G20 summit in Argentina.

“I want to just say that I’ve been friends with Mauricio for a long time, many years,” Trump said. “People wouldn’t know that. He was a very young man, very handsome man. And we knew each other very well. And I actually did business with his family, with his father. Great father. He was a friend a mine … Little did I know that his son would become a president …  And little did you realize that I was going to become president. So we’ve known each other a long while. We’re going to be talking about lots of good things for Argentina, for the United States, including trade, including military purchases, and other things. But we have a lot to talk about—a little bit of old times; about 95 percent business, I would say. But this is a great honor to be with you. You’re my friend, long time. Great family. And you’re doing a fantastic job, and I want to congratulate you.”

On that same day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a release on an energy cooperation framework signed between the two countries. Among other elements, the agreement was to expand opportunities in energy trade, including accelerating Argentina’s renewable energy sector.

Two days prior, on Nov. 28, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, agreed to provide $813 million to support Argentina’s economic growth in sectors ranging from infrastructure to energy and logistics.

“This administration is trying to help Macri to get reelected,” Grassley tells Biodiesel Magazine. “He did so poorly in the primary, and it looks like he will be defeated.” Grassley says he’s not sure why the Trump administration would want to help the new leftist president and “a bunch of socialists running that country.” He says the CVDs were reviewed and reduced “to help the administration and president of Argentina,” and when they lose power “we ought to back down.” “If they agree with me on that point, and I sense they would, as soon as Argentina’s election is over in October, then maybe our government ought to see [that we were trying to help a guy who lost] the election,” Grassley says. “It’s obvious [the Trump administration] wouldn’t want to help a leftwing government.”

Gebolys says, “All indications are that the Argentines are almost certainly poised to vote back into power the more leftist populist block. To the extent that the U.S. was trying to be supportive of Macri’s centrist reform-minded efforts, it appears unlikely that this motivation will be on the table going forward.”

It’s entirely possible that the CCR and preliminary reduction of CVDs were politically motivated, Getlan says. “It is certainly realistic that political considerations were part of this decision,” he says. “All we ask for is that the commerce department make decisions based on facts, the law, and the framework in which it just recently found that Argentina was providing robust subsidies through its tax regime. To the extent that political considerations were made with this decision, the fact that there could be a new administration in Argentina soon suggests the commerce department should reassess its position.”

The rollback lacks merit entirely, Aviner says. “We’re hopeful that the commerce department will reconsider the preliminary decision and leave the CVDs in place,” he says. “It’s important to provide a level playing field. Favors [given to] Argentina undermines us and what Trump ran on—making America great again and supporting domestic manufacturing.”

The Human Element
Leading up to EPA’s 31 new SREs, the 50 MMgy Duonix biodiesel plant in Beatrice, Nebraska, a joint venture between Flint Hills Resources and Benefuel, announced it would be closing its doors. “The biodiesel tax credit has not been reinstated since its expiration at the end of 2017, and this creates additional uncertainty in the market and causes irrational pricing behavior,” Rob Tripp, CEO of Benefuel, tells Biodiesel Magazine. “Among other factors, this has affected the margin environment substantially and has caused many plants to idle in the recent months. The market would trade more rationally and with less risk if the tax credit was reinstated over a longer period of time, or if it was canceled altogether—with RINs picking up the value.”

In late July, Renewable Energy Group Inc. announced it was closing its 15 MMgy plant in New Boston, Texas, and offered to relocate its employees. “This closure comes as a result of the poor economics over the past 18 months resulting in large part from the uncertainty surrounding the biodiesel tax credit,” says Cynthia J. Warner, REG president and CEO. “Despite significant bipartisan support, Congress’ inaction on this value-added incentive has led to unsustainable market conditions.”

When World Energy announced three plant closures, it noted that more than 100 workers will be directly impacted, plus countless farmers, suppliers, distributors and others indirectly. “We do everything in our power to be a force for good for the people who work with us, their families, and in the communities where we operate,” Gebolys says. “When markets prevent us from doing that effectively, it’s very difficult. No business is more powerful than the market. When the market speaks, we have to hear it and act decisively for the benefit of all our people, even those most affected by these moves.”

Aviner says American GreenFuels’ cutback in production is not resulting in layoffs “for now,” he says, “but we’ll see what happens.” The plant directly employs 50 people and has frozen new hires. “We create and sustain more than 250 indirect jobs through our plant in New Haven,” Aviner says. Several employees are military veterans, which make “excellent employees, leaders and coaching staff” due to their unique background. They are trained from the bottom up, with significant investment by the company to become world-class chemical plant operators and technicians. “We’re very proud of where we came from in 2013 to where we are today,” he says. “We—they—live with the constant worry that this industry they’ve come into and we’ve invested in is on the chopping block due to congressional inaction. We don’t have an endless pool of operators. If our workers leave because of this, it’ll be hard to replace them.”

Ken Strickland, a supervisor at American GreenFuels, says he worries about his job. “Without the tax credit, my job can disappear entirely,” he says. “It’s hard to believe after all we’ve built here, Congress can turn its back on this industry. It’s been a long year and a-half worrying about the future.”

Strickland says during the 2016 presidential election, Trump “sounded like he was protective of American manufacturing jobs, but the past two years have been the worst of my career. It’s a shame. American GreenFuels is operating better than ever after our extensive expansion only for our elected officials to let us down.”

The plant’s general manager, Mikulas Gasparik, says it’s difficult for some young people to find another job like what they have at American GreenFuels. “They make a good living, and it’s difficult for me to answer them when they ask about the future of their jobs,” he says. “Some of our young vets, this is the first job they know out of the service. They like their jobs and we want them to stay with us, but Washington is pulling the rug out from underneath them so I—they—don’t know what to do. I ask them to be patient with us, but I realize they must look out for themselves. I say call and send letters to your congresspeople, get as many people involved as possible. It’s very important to us.” 

A Solution?
The August SREs led to significant backlash from the ethanol, biodiesel and agricultural industries, and Trump was forced to act or risk further disaffecting his base as the 2020 presidential election cycle ramps up. After a series of meetings with biofuel and oil interests, a negotiated deal was pending announcement at press time.

NBB is pushing for 2020 advanced biofuels volumes of 5.54 billion gallons vs. the current proposal of 5.04 billion gallons. For the 2021 biomass-based diesel RVO, NBB is arguing for 2.76 billion gallons vs. the current proposal of 2.43 billion gallons. “The numbers we’re asking for are solely to provide growth, not making up for the SREs,” says Paul Winters, NBB’s federal communications director. “We cannot sit back anymore,” Kovarik says. “EPA must follow the law and estimate waived gallons in the rule pending now. If it doesn’t, then none of the volumes matter. This is not what Congress intended. All we are asking for is integrity in implementation of the RFS.”

The NBB is not asking EPA to go back and reallocate all the waived gallons throughout the history of the program or even this administration. “This rule under consideration now is not final until November, so the gallons EPA just decided to waive in August, we are asking that it reinstates those in this rule that’s open right now,” Rehagen says. “We’re only asking EPA to fix this now and going forward.”

“We’ve got one priority,” Kovarik says. “Without achieving that one policy objective—without accounting for SREs going forward—then none of the other policies offered mean anything.” Rehagen says, “EPA can’t keep doing this. If it wants to grant SREs, that’s fine—but the volumes have to go back in. Otherwise there’s no process, no predictability and no certainty for us.”

Grassley told the White House that waived gallonage ought to be reinstated to make up for past mistakes. “But most important,” he says, “we need to be guaranteed the law will be followed. EPA cannot ignore what Congress implied.”

In a statement provided to Biodiesel Magazine by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, she says she, like others in Congress, has “fought to stop the misguided overuse of the small refinery waivers by the EPA, which … have resulted in the recent closure of … production facilities and the idling of others, directly affecting thousands of jobs. At a time when farmers and rural communities are struggling with low prices and ongoing trade disputes, the EPA should not be taking regulatory actions that reduce demand.”

While the industry awaits the pending deal from the Trump administration, many in Congress are acting to push for oversight or introduce legislation to prevent situations like the Aug. 9 SRE announcement from happening again. Finkenauer and others are asking for the Government Accountability Office to investigate EPA’s misuse of SREs. Legislation (H.R. 4385) introduced Sept. 18 by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, would require EPA to account for SREs when formulating annual RVOs.

Meanwhile, biodiesel stakeholders have become frustrated with soybeans and biodiesel being marginalized in high-level discussions that revolve around corn and ethanol, despite the disproportionate impacts SREs have on the smaller biodiesel sector. The administration seems to think allowing year-round sales of E15 somehow makes up for billions of gallons of demand destruction in the biodiesel industry. “This a bit mind-boggling to me,” Gebolys says. “We’ve allowed others to define us as ethanol, to suit their purposes. We need to get better at getting our own story out. It’s a good and compelling one.”

The biofuels and agricultural industries are simply asking that the Trump administration uphold his campaign promises and, more importantly, the RFS, which has been law for more than a decade. Big Oil, on the other hand, is trying to subvert the RFS and by extension break the law. Although Grassley believes Trump is on the side of farmers, he says “Big Oil has a big influence in EPA.”

Time will tell whether the deal Trump strikes will benefit farmers and biofuel producers. “I believe in redemption,” Gebolys says. “We’d certainly welcome meaningful, decisive action now. At this point though, any further promises, delays or feel-good announcements need to be seen exactly for what they are.” Aviner says, “Better late than never. Anything less than full reallocation of gallons waived from SREs and truly market-driven RVOs would be insufficient to rectify the damage done. I’ll take Trump at his word that he will do something, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Author: Ron Kotrba
Editor, Biodiesel Magazine
218-745-8347
rkotrba@bbiinternational.com

 
 
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