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Industry leader: Biden better than Trump on biofuels

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Jan 23, 2024
Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper

Geoff Cooper. Photo: courtesy of Renewable Fuels Association

This year is make or break for the future of the biofuels industry, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper told Axios.

Why it matters: Biofuels have become powerful in D.C. thanks to their nexus at the center of energy markets, agriculture policy, and arguably the industry's relevance to the Iowa caucuses.

  • But as we've explained, the industry sits at a crossroads. Federal ethanol minimums in gasoline expired. Biofuels groups are fighting for favorable treatment under the IRA. And the sector could face headaches if Donald Trump is re-elected.

Cooper met with Axios at the Pret a Manger near the EPA's headquarters. His remarks have been edited for clarity.

What do you think drives the administration's decision-making on your issues, broadly speaking?

I know there's a lot of people in my industry that think this administration has a one-track mind when it comes to decarbonizing light-duty transportation. They see all these headlines about electric vehicles and think this is all the administration cares about. But … we've seen a broader approach.

Take a look at the renewable fuel standard, for instance. They've been very favorable for us. Some of the things they've done to facilitate higher blends of ethanol in gasoline like E15. They have been quite supportive of renewable fuels.

Donald Trump has told Iowans he "fought for Iowa ethanol like no president in history." But who's been better, Trump or Biden?

When Mr. Trump was president, we did see some progress on some key priorities for ethanol and renewable fuels. But we also had those small refinery exemptions that were granted. The RFS was sort of picked apart from the inside by EPA at that time.

And again, we always felt Mr. Trump himself was pretty good on ethanol issues, biofuel issues. But it was the people around him — first Scott Pruitt, then Andy Wheeler.

If you look at key metrics around the health and growth of the industry … I think if you compare, look at those metrics over the last three years, versus the preceding four years, you'd see [we've] done better under this administration.

Go deeper: Read what Cooper told us about the growing bipartisan pushback to CO2 pipelines.

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