The White House has delayed an annual rule-making process to decide on U.S. biofuel blending mandates, as it searches for a solution on a contentious issue that pits blue-collar refinery workers against the nation’s corn farmers, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Lawmakers that represent constituents from both industries have been pushing the Biden administration on this issue for months. The White House has largely stayed out of the discussions but is now hoping to take control of the matter.
The White House review comes as the Biden administration is hoping to keep Democrats unified on pushing through a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure package that funds most of the president’s top priorities. Democrats, who have slim majorities in both houses, are likely going to have to move the bill along a party-line vote.
Ron Klain, Joe Biden’s chief of staff, is involved in the discussions, the sources said. Lawmakers representing corn-producing states, including Democratic senators Tammy Duckworth from Illinois and Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, have made direct pleas to Klain.
Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, oil refiners must blend biofuels into their fuel mix, or buy tradable credits, known as RINs, from those that do.
The law has been a battleground between the oil and corn industries for years. It has created a large market for corn-based ethanol that has helped farmers but petroleum refiners say it adds costs because they either have to invest in biofuel blending businesses, which smaller refiners say is not a viable option, or buy credits from refiners which already blend.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the RFS, did not immediately provide comment. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Jarrett RenshawEditing by Chris Reese and Nick Zieminski)