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Trump Disappoints Fossil Fuel Proponents and Corn Belt Base as EPA Leaves Biofuels Program Mostly Unchanged

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Marlo Lewis was cited by CNBC for the negative impact which not scaling back on the renewable fuel program will have on taxpayers and those filling up at the pump. 

Faced with competing demands from two pillars of President Donald Trump's base, the Environmental Protection Agency left a controversial renewable fuel program largely unchanged — and neither side of the long-burning debate fully satisfied.

America's Corn Belt and fossil fuel proponents are unlikely to drop their support for Trump over the decision, but both groups expressed disappointment over the announcement.

The resolution shows how Trump, who has rapidly plowed through much of his energy agenda, may find it harder to chalk up decisive wins as the administration considers tackling tougher battles with entrenched interests.

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The Renewable Fuel Association, a biofuels industry group, said it was pleased EPA didn't scale back the levels, but argued the Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be a "forward-looking program" to drive investment in new technologies.

"The biofuels industry will rise or fall together, and thus we are disappointed the final rule is not more aggressive with regard to other advanced biofuels such as biodiesel," RFA President Bob Dinneen said in a statement.

Similarly, Iowa's senior Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said he was glad that EPA dropped its earlier proposal, but had hoped for higher blending levels.

"The EPA's announced renewable volume obligations fall short of the full potential of the U.S. biofuels industry. That is disappointing," he said in a statement.

Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst, the junior Republican from Iowa, were among several midwest lawmakers who threatened to hold up Trump's EPA nominees if he scaled back the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Trump EPA 'caved'

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Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, accused the EPA of caving to pressure from lawmakers like Ernst.

"Although utterly trivial in economic terms, the miniscule [sic] increase is a political victory for those whose regulatory rents and campaign contributions depend on the piratical dogma that, regardless of market conditions and consumer preference, biofuel producers are always entitled to squeeze more dollars out of motorists at the pump," he said in an email to CNBC.

Read the full article at CNBC