Businesses flock to White House ahead of biofuel rule

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been busy meeting with chemical and energy companies in recent days, ahead of the expected release of new biofuel standards.

This week, the OMB has hosted four meetings on the upcoming Renewable Fuel Standard rules, which would require that refiners mix a certain amount of biofuel in with conventional gasoline.

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The annual Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) target for 2014, which is expected to give more leeway to the oil-and-gas industry, has worried biofuel companies.

A version of the yearly target that has been leaked to media outlets “is a jobs killer,” National Biodiesel Board spokesman Ben Evans said in an emailed statement to The Hill.

“So in effect, you’re talking about cutting biodiesel production in half – cutting the leading domestic supplier of EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel in half, without offering an explanation,” he explained.

On Thursday, the trade group and six biodiesel producers with plants across the country met with Obama administration officials to plead their case.

In other meetings this week, officials from the ethanol association Growth Energy, the chemical giant DuPont, biotech firm Novozymes, Delta Air Lines and energy companies including Monroe Energy, Abengoa and PBF Energy all met with White House and EPA staffers, according to meeting records.

Oil-and-gas companies have complained that previous targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard were too stringent. Continuing on the same path, they said, would require them to produce a blend of gasoline that caused problems in most vehicles.

leaked copy of the draft 2014 standards indicates the EPA is planning to roll back its mandate for ethanol by about 3 billion gallons.

Biofuel groups argue that rolling back the mandate would hurt the economy and run counter to the president’s stated commitment to exploring new sources of energy.