Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz will soon meet with President Donald Trump and top administration officials to discuss one of the most contentious U.S. energy policies on the books — the biofuel mandate.
Cruz will likely reiterate his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a 2005 law that mandates refiners blend ever-increasing amounts of biofuels into the fuel supply. Cruz and other lawmakers requested the meeting in October.
Cruz won the 2016 Iowa Republican primary on an anti-RFS platform, even in the countries that produce the most corn. Most U.S. ethanol is corn-based meaning, the industry carries a lot of weight in Iowa politics.
K Street sources told Axios’s Jonathan Swan the meeting will take place on Thursday, and Reuters reported on Friday the meeting would likely take place the week of Dec. 11.
Cruz and eight other GOP senators sent the October letter about a week after the Trump administration reversed plans to make small changes to the RFS. amid pressure from Iowa senators and Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced on Friday it would require refiners to blend more than 25 billion gallons of biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply next year, effectively maintaining the status quo and angering the biofuels industry and refiners.
It was a bigger blow to refiners who likely saw Pruitt as an ally on the issue, but now are stuck with the costs of complying with the expensive mandate.
“Unfortunately, it appears that EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to King Corn,” Chet Thompson, president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, said in a statement.
Refiners are forced to purchase credits, or RINs, if they are unable to blend enough biofuels, which can cost millions of dollars each year. In 2016, refiners paid out $2.6 billion on biofuel credits, cutting into their already thin profit margins.
Cruz’s home state of Texas is one of the hardest hit by RFS compliance costs since it makes up a large chunk of U.S. refining capacity. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already asked EPA for a waiver on RFS requirements.
In their October letter, Cruz and company warned if EPA “does not make adjustments or reforms on matters related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it will result in a loss of jobs around the country, particularly in our states.”
Cruz’s letter asked Trump to put together a meeting with pro-RFS lawmakers to “discuss a pathway forward toward a mutually agreeable solution that will also save refining jobs and help unleash an American energy renaissance.”
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