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Farm groups urge Trump to keep federal biofuel mandate

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Farm groups urge Trump to keep federal biofuel mandate

A number of prominent farming groups are requesting President Trump maintain the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for vehicles, in hopes that it will continue to prop up ethanol and drive money into the struggling agriculture industry.

In a letter written to the president Monday, the heads of six national farming groups acknowledged that “times are tough” and may get worse for farmers. The group pointed to the RFS, established in 2005 under President George W. Bush, as the “strong engine driving the rural economy.”

The RFS is a transportation fuel requirement that orders all fuel sold in the U.S. to maintain a certain level of renewables.

Earlier this week it was reported that Trump would be meeting with various agency heads to discuss possible changes to the biofuel mandate. The president is expected to have lunch on Tuesday at the White House with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue , along with Vice President Pence.

“The heart of America is being left behind when it comes to economic growth and opportunity,” the groups said in their letter. “By any measure, the RFS has been successful not only for agriculture, but for our nation.”

The joint letter to Trump asks him to compare the struggling agriculture industry with the “booming” oil and gas industry when making his decision on RFS. It adds that the recent bankruptcy of refinery Philadelphia Energy Solutions should not be considered proof that the fossil fuel industry cannot be sustained with the RFS in place.

“The failings of one company should not be used as an excuse for undermining a law that serves hundreds of ethanol and biodiesel plants, tens of thousands of renewable fuel plant workers, and millions of farmers who rely upon the strong market demand created by the RFS,” the letter reads.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions was the largest East Coast oil-refining complex. The bankruptcy comes just six years after the company was financially rescued by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, and petroleum company Sunoco. The refiner blamed costs associated with the RFS for its bankruptcy. 

Oil and gas industries have historically pushed back against the RFS, which they believe unfairly props up the renewable market. 

“The President and his administration have expressed strong support for the RFS since the early days of President Trump’s campaign,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson in a statement. “We want to be sure he remembers these promises he made to farmers and rural communities as he meets with senior administration officials and lawmakers. Rural communities are under a lot of economic stress, so there is much to gain from a strong RFS, and a lot to lose by weakening it.”

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