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White House sets biofuel meeting; Trump will not attend: sources

Kitco News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The White House has made preliminary plans for a meeting on Monday between rivals in the corn and oil industries to discuss potential changes to the nation’s biofuels policy, two sources familiar with the planning told Reuters.

Unlike previous meetings on the issue, President Donald Trump will not be in attendance, the sources said on Thursday, though agency leaders and executives from the oil and corn industry will participate and key lawmakers may also attend.

Trump is expected to be traveling early next week.

A White House official did not immediately comment.

The meeting is the latest in a series of talks between Big Corn and Big Oil arranged by the White House since late last year amid rising concern over the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a law requiring refiners to mix biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel.

The battle between the oil industry and corn growers pits two traditionally Republican constituencies against each other. They are both now promoting their views to a Republican president over a program started under the administration of President George W. Bush that was designed to help farmers and reduce U.S. petroleum imports.

The RFS currently requires refiners to cover the cost of blending increasing volumes of biofuels like corn-based ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year. To prove compliance, refiners must earn or purchase tradable blending credits, known as RINs - the price of which has skyrocketed in recent years.

Last week, Trump supported a two-step approach to reducing credit costs. That had the backing of refiners but faced resistance from the corn industry, which supports the current form of the law, Reuters reported.

The plan included a two-year cap on credit prices, as well as a concession to the ethanol industry that would allow higher-ethanol blended gasoline to be sold year-round - something advocates said could drive down credit prices in the long term.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler

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