2017 is poised to be a record level of production for renewable fuels underneath the Renewable Fuel Standard program, coupled with record consumption based on U.S. Energy Information Agency forecasts. Yet, many questions still linger for how the next administration will go about management of the RFS program.
Scott Pruitt, President-elect Trump’s pick to head the EPA, has at times been an opponent of the RFS program, carrying a previous record of opposing RFS increases and being an overall critic of the program. President-elect Trump himself also sent mixed messages on RFS and biofuel standards from the campaign trail. Earlier this year in Iowa, Trump called for increases in the RFS program, including more ethanol production. Trump’s campaign, however, issued a fact sheet later in the year calling for the elimination of the RFS program entirely.
Addressing the RFS program targets and “blend wall” will be an early challenge for the Trump administration, and in part help set a tone for how a next administration EPA will guide environmental regulations and policy with regards to alternative fuels and emission mitigation within the transportation industry. Already there have been rumors of maintaining current levels, increases, and scrapping the program entirely. The Trump administration thus far has sought to keep a perspective of being pro-business; including the nominations of Rick Perry to the Department of Energy and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. The RFS program carries definite business benefits however, from feedstock growers to the refiners and fuel delivery. More will come over the coming months as we draw closer to Trump’s inauguration; and the RFS program will be an early pace setter for the new administration’s environmental policy.