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article imageEPA's biofuel waiver decision influenced by Trump phone call

By Karen Graham     Aug 16, 2019 in Politics
A phone call from U.S. President Donald Trump last week ended a nearly two-month-long review of the nation’s biofuels program, three sources familiar with the matter said, with the White House siding in favor of oil refiners over corn growers.
Trump gave the head of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, the green light to go ahead and announce the regulator had granted 31 small refinery exemptions out of the 40 applications, saying he wanted the issue off his desk, according to sources, reports Reuters.
The president's call led to a beehive of activity within the agency - leading up to the surprise Friday announcement. “The president has heard from all sides and in the end, he has had enough of it. He called Wheeler and gave him the green light,” a source familiar with knowledge of the matter said.
The White House's biofuel laws are another set of regulations the Trump administration has been trying to change since the beginning of Trump's presidency, but they ran up against the powerful oil and corn lobbies - both with allies in Trump's GOP party.
Now, with the 2020 election coming up, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard has taken on increased political importance. The standard has been in existence for over a decade and requires refineries to blend corn-based ethanol into their gasoline or buy credits from those that do.
Since Trump took office, the EPA has managed to quadruple the number of waivers it has granted to refineries, including those refineries operated by giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Needless to say, but this little game has saved the oil companies millions of dollars and enraged farmers who claim the exemptions threaten demand for one of their staple products.
Not surprisingly, oil companies insist the exemptions have not affected the demand for ethanol, and the White House declined to respond to the story. And the EPA was no different.
When Trump made a visit to Iowa, an important swing state in the presidential election, he heard from angry farmers - voicing their concerns over the waivers. Farmers have also gotten the short end of the stick from Trump's trade war with China. The question now might be who does Trump think he needs the most to win reelection? - Farmers or oil companies?
More about Epa, biofuel waiver, Oil refineries, corn growers, Phone call
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