'No change' to Trump RFS support after policy edits

OREANDA-NEWS. September 16, 2016. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has not changed his support for US biofuel mandates, a campaign representative told Argus after a document criticizing the policy's enforcement mechanism on the campaign's website was revised.

A fact sheet published to the official campaign website today describing Trump's economic policy goals included criticism of renewable identification numbers (RINs), the mechanism the US Environmental Protection Agency uses to prove compliance with federal blending mandates called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

"These requirements have turned out to be impossible to meet and are bankrupting many of the small and midsize refiners in this country," the original version of the document said. "These regulations will give Big Oil an oligopoly by destroying the small to mid-size refineries."

The discussion was included in a list of "specific regulations to be eliminated." But the document vanished from the website, and later reappeared without any discussion of RINs. A representative said Trump's position supporting RFS had not changed.

Trump on 13 September vowed to "protect the Renewable Fuel Standard — corn-based ethanol" in a speech in Iowa, and earlier this year said the US should adhere to higher blending levels set by Congress roughly a decade ago.

The RFS requires refiners, importers and other companies adding to the US transportation fuel supply to ensure rising volumes of renewable fuels blend into the pool each year. Such companies, called obligated parties, must ensure renewables equal to 10.1pc of their production enter the domestic transportation pool this year. EPA has proposed an equivalent of 10.44pc of production for next year.

The agency uses RINs — markers generated when the renewable fuels blend with conventional supplies — to evaluate compliance with the program. Companies that operate blending infrastructure can generate their own; businesses that do not must purchase RINs from others.

Merchant refiners who lack sufficient blending volumes to manage their obligations and so much purchase their compliance have pushed to change or scrap the program as prices for RINs have climbed. Credits associated with the most common biofuel have averaged 90.23?/RIN in the third quarter so far — more than double the average price for the same period last year, based on Argus assessments.

Language used in the earlier version of the document echoed criticisms levied this year by Valero, former PBF Energy refining executive Tom O'Malley and investor Carl Icahn, whose companies own midcontinent refiner CVR Energy. Valero earlier this year led a push to make blenders share the burden of meeting the mandates, warning of pressure on independent refiners that favored oil majors and split the industry.