POET CEO says RFS deal “still on the table”; could be “a couple of days”

March 21, 2018 |

In Iowa, POET CEO Jeff Broin told delegates at the Iowa Partnering for Growth meeting in Ankeny, Iowa today that there is still a deal on the table to provide year-round E15 approval for the biofuels industry and that may offer some relief to small merchant oil refiners. He said that it was possible that a deal could be announced as soon as “in a couple of days”. Broin did not give specifics, except that to confirm that the primary issue for ethanol producers has been a waiver on E15 ethanol blends that would allow the fuels to be sold year-round.

Commenting on the negotiations, Broin told delegates that “it’s been changing almost by the hour the past couple of weeks. The President has been very supportive to us, and he also wants to help the merchant refiners. It’s important that everyone here, and across the Midwest, remind the President in every way  how important these issues are to us.”

Broin described the initial meeting with the President that took place on March 1st, as ABLC was taking place in downtown DC and not long before Senator Amy Klobuchar took the ABLC stage and took a live call with Senator Charles Grassley to discuss the progress of negotiations.

“It was interesting,” Broin recalled. “It was, like 8 oil guys, and 8 biofuels guys, and the President was at the table almost like the mediator. He said ‘we’re going to solve this problem, we’re going to leave with a deal,” but Broin explained that despite the President’s support it has been difficult “to get everyone on the same page.” Referring back to the initial session, Broin noted that “by the end of meeting, the President was becoming supportive of E15, I thought.”

Broin’s comments are at odds with reporting by Reuters that US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue believes the President may be backing away from direct involvement by the White House in negotiating a deal, and may leave the complex negotiations to Congressional lawmakers. More on that report elsewhere in our Digest coverage here.

The E15 backstory

We looked in depth at the E15’s prospects here in “Market access: Industry grips with E15’s future in key Senate hearing” and we have updates on action in the Senate here, and at EPA here.

We reported last month that action to artificially cap Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices in exchange for an RVP waiver allowing year-round sale of E15 would be a bad deal for rural America and the nation’s consumers, according to the study by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University. Such a tradeoff, concluded the CARD report, would result in reduced ethanol consumption, a drop in corn prices, and an effective cut of 5% to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) conventional renewable fuel requirement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has proposed capping corn ethanol RIN prices at 10 cents, potentially in exchange for an RVP waiver for E15.

 

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