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Trump Tells EPA to Back Down on RFS Changes
USAgNet - 10/19/2017

White House officials have directed the Environmental Protection Agency to stand down on efforts to weaken a federal biofuel mandate after pressure from Iowa politicians seeking to preserve demand for corn and soy, said people familiar with the decision. According to Bloomberg News, the agency was told to abandon two changes that were under consideration: a possible reduction in biodiesel requirements and a proposal to allow exported renewable fuel to count toward domestic quotas, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the move.

After President Donald Trump spoke with one of the Renewable Fuel Standard's fierce defenders, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, about the issue Wednesday, she tweeted that the discussions were "positive & productive."

Reynolds is one of a phalanx of Midwest politicians who have lobbied the administration to impose robust biofuel quotas by highlighting the president's promises to support ethanol and signaling that any move to weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard would be seen as a betrayal of those vows. That 12-year-old law requires refiners and importers to use biodiesel, conventional renewable fuel and next-generation alternatives.

It was not immediately clear whether the administration's decision to relent will be enough to satisfy Midwest politicians who have threatened to hold up EPA nominees over the issue, nor how the EPA can make its intentions clear before a Nov. 30 deadline to finalize next year's quotas.

A meeting Tuesday between Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, and a group of senators led by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley came after the agency began considering changes that could make it easier for refiners to meet the mandates. The farm-state lawmakers said they pushed Pruitt to abandon proposals that could weaken the quotas for biofuels.

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