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NMMA seeks clarity from Trump on ethanol policy

The NMMA is “eagerly awaiting” Donald Trump’s appointments to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Department of Agriculture
The marine industry is waiting to see what position Donald Trump will take as president on the issue of ethanol levels in gasoline.

The marine industry is waiting to see what position Donald Trump will take as president on the issue of ethanol levels in gasoline.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is “eagerly awaiting” Donald Trump’s appointments to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Department of Agriculture to clarify the president-elect’s position on ethanol, which to date has largely supported ethanol increases in the fuel supply.

While campaigning against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in January, Trump told the Renewable Fuels Association in Iowa that the EPA should increase the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline supply.

Cruz had received sharp criticism in corn country for opposing federal subsidies for the ethanol industry, saying he would “tear down the EPA’s blend wall, which will enable ethanol to expand its market share by up to 60 percent, all without mandates,” according to Time Magazine.

Trump was very supportive of the Renewable Fuel Standard at that time, saying he is “100 percent” behind the ethanol industry, a powerful force in Iowa, according to The Hill.

On Sept. 15 Trump “momentarily” said he would repeal a key piece of the fuel standard, but quickly changed course, according to The Hill.

Briefly, the Trump campaign website briefly posted a fact sheet announcing his opposition to a key component of the biofuel law, saying it "penalizes refineries if they do not meet certain blending requirements. These requirements have turned out to be impossible to meet, and are bankrupting many of the small and midsize refineries in this country,” according to the Times-Picayune.

That fact sheet was quickly taken down later on Sept. 15 after pressure from the ethanol industry, the newspaper said.

A Trump campaign official declined to comment on the change in the fact sheet, saying only that Trump’s commitment to the standard as it is currently written is “unshakeable,” The Hill reported on Sept. 15.

"We are eagerly awaiting his appointments to the EPA and [Department of] Agriculture, which will give further indication on his appetite for reforming the RFS," Michael Lewan, NMMA senior manager of government relations, told the Times-Picayune. "We are confident, though, that he, like many other elected officials on both sides of the aisle, will come to understand the many, clear and objective reasons for why the mandate needs to be reformed.”

“The president-elect and the vice president-elect are meeting today to discuss the Cabinet, and we believe word will slowly trickle out on who is being tapped for the various slots,” Lewan told Trade Only Today on Tuesday. “One thing to note — we are hearing that the EPA will finalize the 2017 RVO [renewable fuel obligations] rule as early as Thursday.”

Once that is official, the NMMA will issue an analysis of what that means for the boating industry, which has long opposed raising ethanol levels in the fuel supply above the so-called blend wall.

“The EPA has been pretty tight-lipped on what they will deliver,” Lewan said. “The received a lot of feedback since the proposal in May — from every side imaginable — so it wouldn’t surprise me if they made some changes.”

Lewan said the NMMA has been working to bring the Trump transition team up to speed on the issue.

“As with any election, last week’s results present new opportunities for us as an industry to educate and engage with the new policy-makers coming to town or shifting roles,” Lewan said.

“Our D.C. team has already begun reaching out to the Trump transition team to brief them on our issues and the industry, and we look forward to continuing those conversations as they get more up to speed in the coming weeks.”



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