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By Staff | Dec 30, 2016

The WSJ headline read, “Trumps sends mixed signals on ethanol.” I don’t know why they made Trump plural in that headline, but they did.

I also don’t see where the signals are being mixed when everyone he has nominated for domestic posts in his administration so far are anti-RFS and anti-ethanol.

Scott Pruitt (EPA), Rick Perry (DOE), Ryan Zinke (SecInterior), Rex Tillerson (SecState) and Carl Icahn (in the background): – Do you mean to tell me that Big Oil got all these guys into the Trump administration and he didn’t owe them anything!?

If you wanted to screw the RFS and ethanol over wouldn’t this be your A-team to do that? Trump claims to support ethanol and the RFS, but then appointed all these guys who have spent most of their adult lives working for Big Oil interests trying to undermine biofuels to positions of power.

These are the guys behind the misinformation campaign to discredit ethanol that I have spent a lot of effort fighting against. They have all worked hand-in-glove with the American Petroleum Institute to disparage ethanol. Ethanol groups are clinging to the promise that Trump is for ethanol because there is not much else that they can do.

If they call out any of the nominations, then they look like they are attacking the big guy and he doesn’t like that.

All of these cabinet appointees and even the guy he had help vett them, Carl Icahn, are all Big-Oil anti-RFS. He hasn’t appointed a pro-RFS official to his cabinet yet. Gov. Branstad is leaving the country going to China. That should get him out of the way.

If you put a fox, coyote, wolf, and a weasel in charge of the chicken house claiming they will protect them that is a rather odd choice is it not? They have every intention of butchering the chickens which is ingrained in their DNA. Put a fox in a chicken house and only one thing is going to happen. I think that someone is going to forget that they are there to protect the chickens?

Some claim that EPA head, Scott Pruitt, will treat ethanol “fair.” Give me a break. His idea of what is fair relative to ethanol or the RFS will be diametrically opposite of what the industry sees as balanced. DTN reported that as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA to block its ruling allowing use of E-15 in vehicles newer than 2001. He didn’t do that for Oklahoma, he did that for Big Oil.

He consistently backed the American Petroleum Institute which has fronted the public relations assault against ethanol.

He is a protege of Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who is as anti-ethanol as anyone can get. He will go after ethanol in so many ways we will not have enough wire to fix all the holes in the fence. They will make sure that there are no E-15 volatility waivers, CAFE fleet mileage standards important to future ethanol demand are reduced, volumetric targets are frozen, no further increase in blends are approved as fuels and RINs enforcement is castrated.

Carl Icahn was working for his own self-interest owning shares in a refinery where he was angry about having to blend ethanol or buy RINs. RINs are the enforcement mechanism of the RFS. That is the construct behind the RFS. Icahn wants to dismantle it and Pruitt was one of his partners in the endeavor.

The WSJ wrote, “Critics of the ethanol mandate have had Mr. Trump’s ear. Billionaire investor, Carl Icahn, the majority owner of a small refinery operator facing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to comply with the policy, helped select Mr. Pruitt as his EPA chief. Mr. Icahn said problems with the standard could be addressed if the EPA changes its rules covering which companies are obligated to add ethanol to finished gasoline.

“He said he expected Mr. Pruitt to address some of the agency’s ‘absurd’ regulations, including those related to ethanol. One refining industry executive close to Donald Trump’s transition team says the president-elect’s political staff thinks the mandate needs to be overhauled.”

That is what the WSJ said. What about Breitbart News which is the administration’s Pravda? I Googled Breitbart on Ethanol and got hits like these:

  • “Study: Ethanol Worse for Environment Than Gasoline.”
  • “EPA Requires More Ethanol Into Less Gasoline.”
  • “Rush to Renewables Fast-Tracks Fraud.”
  • “Obama EPA Rushes to Impose New Ethanol Mandate.”
  • “Obama Ethanol Policy Eroding Conserved Lands.”
  • “Environmentalist and Energy Advocates Agree: Ethanol Reform Now.”
  • “Ethanol Costs U.S. Drivers.”

I didn’t sense any warm feelings for ethanol from Trump’s Alt-News.

Trump supports ethanol so when he sends his Angel of Death to fly over EPA he has specifically ordered Pruitt to spare the RFS. That must be how it will work. I am sure that Carl Icahn made that clear when he was interviewing Pruitt for the job … I am sure that Icahn told him, “I know, Scott, that you and I hate the RFS-RINs just like I wrote in the WSJ, but Donald has promised those nice guys in Iowa (and Minnesota) that he supports the RFS and we have to stand down and leave that alone.”

Ha! Opposition to ethanol is so ingrained in Trump appointees.

I don’t believe any of the guys that make up Trump’s A-team have any natural good will for ethanol and the RFS and that will become apparent in policy as time goes on.

After fighting with them for years, I will bet that many leaders in the ethanol industry, who continue to plead trust in Trump, ever dreamt that they would have to depend on Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry and the others for their credibility in the industry.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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