Fact sheet confuses Trump position on ethanol

Fact sheet confuses Trump position on ethanol
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE momentarily said Thursday that he would repeal a key piece of the federal ethanol mandate, before changing course.

A fact sheet on Trump’s website initially listed the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) program, a credit system that is a part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as being among the energy regulations that he would repeal as president.

The fact sheet was taken down later on Thursday and was replaced with a new document that did not mention the fuel standard.

The renewable fuel standard mandates that certain volumes of ethanol and other biofuels be blended into fuels like gasoline. It is opposed by most Republicans and free-market advocates, as well as the oil industry, but Trump backed it during the Iowa caucuses as he battled with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzConservatives balk over funding bill ahead of shutdown  Confirmation fight over Trump pick exposes blurred lines in GOP-LGBT activism GOP pushes to change Senate rules for Trump MORE (R-Texas), an opponent of the standard.

A Trump campaign official declined to comment on the change in the fact sheet Thursday, saying only that Trump’s commitment to the standard as it is currently written is “unshakeable.”

The initial fact sheet said that the RIN program “penalizes refineries if they do not meet certain blending requirements. These requirements have turned out to be impossible to meet and are bankrupting many of the small and midsize refineries in this country.”

Trump used this as an opportunity to slam “Big Oil,” saying in the fact sheet that RINs give the industry “an oligopoly by destroying the small to mid-size refineries.”

RINs are tradeable credits that demonstrate compliance with the regulation. Refiners must either obtain the credits by blending the biofuels into traditional fuels themselves or buy the credits from others who have blended biofuels themselves.

Trump stated his support for the fuel standard as recently as last week, saying, “We are going to protect the RFS [and] corn-based ethanol,” according to Michigan station WWMT. 

Many groups that have either endorsed Trump or are otherwise close to him disagree with his ethanol position.

The Institute for Energy Research, for example, argues that the fuel standard “is costing American motorists additional fuel costs over and above what they would have paid for gasoline due mainly to ethanol’s lower fuel efficiency.” 

The group’s political arm, the American Energy Alliance, has endorsed Trump.

The Heritage Foundation said fuel standard’s repeal would “encourage a healthier market that promotes risk-taking and entrepreneurial activity rather than dependence on government for near-term survival through favorable policies and tax treatment.”