Renewable-fuel mandate ruling leaves no one happy: the best compromise?


Non-ethanol gasoline pump

Non-ethanol gasoline pump

As they say, the best compromise is usually the one that leaves all parties equally dissatisfied.

When it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable-fuel mandate, it seems regulators have reached equilibrium.

The latest skirmish in the long-running battle over the U.S. renewable-fuel standard appears to have been settled, at least for the moment.

DON'T MISS: Trump EPA: less enforcement of laws, more leeway for polluters

As oil producers pushed for changes to the standard, EPA head Scott Pruitt appears to have caved to pressure from corn-state Republican legislators.

Accordingly, his agency has continued a mandate that'll see 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels blended with gasoline for 2018.

According to The Washington Post, while the EPA has maintained the status quo regarding biofuels added to fuel, Sen. Charles E. Grassley [R-IA] isn't particularly happy with the result.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]

The mandate only includes conventional biofuels; demands from producers of advanced biofuels to adjust the balance between the two fell on deaf ears.

"Renewable volume obligations fall short of the full potential of the U.S. biofuels industry," Grassley said.

The powerful senator singled out "the lack of increase for biodiesel levels, and the cut in cellulosic level requirements."

READ MORE: EPA to study cutting amount of ethanol in U.S. gasoline

The latest move by the EPA is seen as out of line with other decisions made by the agency since President Donald Trump ascended to the Oval Office.

Other recent decisions by the EPA have characterized it as an oil-friendly regulator with Pruitt at the helm.

Pruitt, a climate-science denier, sued the agency he now leads more than a dozen times to prevent it from enforcing emission rules that affected the fossil-fuel industry in Oklahoma when he was that state's attorney general.

Gas pump

Gas pump

Meanwhile, Pruitt himself has generally ignored environmental groups, choosing to meet mostly with industry executives.

EPA representatives have defended Pruitt's meeting schedule by claiming "the agency is now meeting with those ignored by the Obama administration."

Recent reporting indicates that the EPA is giving polluters more leeway while being less rigorous about enforcing regulations that protect U.S. air, water, and land.

In the case of renewable fuels, however, two major political constituencies that both have influence with the Trump Administration—the agricultural corn producers of the Midwest and the oil and refining industry—appear to have fought to a draw.

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