September 11, 2019 / 12:33 AM / a month ago

White House invites biofuel company officials to meet over stalled deal: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - White House officials have arranged to meet representatives of biofuel companies on Wednesday to discuss the administration’s plan to increase biofuel blending mandates, in a bid to secure industry support, two sources familiar with the matter said.

President Donald Trump’s plan aims to appease farmer anger in the Midwest over his administration’s decision to exempt 31 refineries from an obligation to blend ethanol with gasoline, which the farming community says has undermined corn demand.

The plan, however, so far has fallen short of their demands.

The meeting expected early on Wednesday, will include officials from companies including Louis Dreyfus and Renewable Energy Group, said the sources, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to talk about internal deliberations.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to lead the meeting, sources said.

Trump has found himself in a political bind as he looks to appease two of his most prized constituencies – Big Oil and Big Corn - to again propel him into the presidency next year. He has promised to deliver a “giant package” to U.S. farmers related to ethanol.

On Friday, U.S. agricultural trade groups criticized a biofuel reform package proposed by the Trump administration.

The agricultural industry wants the administration to force larger refineries to make up for the exempted gallons through a process called “reallocation,” but has yet not committed to it.

The proposed plan from Friday included an increase of 500 million gallons for conventional biofuels, largely corn-based ethanol, as well as an additional 500 million gallons for advanced biofuels like biodiesel for 2020, sources said.

It would also include an addition to the biodiesel mandate for 2021 of 250 million gallons.

The oil industry has voiced opposition to the plan.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Michael Perry

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