Mar 10, 2017

Top Republican sees opening for ethanol mandate overhaul

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Seth Perlman / AP

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Friday at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston that breakthrough is possible in the ethanol wars because both sides have reason to come to the table. The Texas Republican said he's trying to broker a compromise over the federal biofuels mandate, called the Renewable Fuel Standard, between interests from oil- and corn-producing states.

Why it matters: the RFS has long been the stuff of furious lobbying battles between different business interests. It pits the oil industry, which says the program is badly broken and unwieldy, against crop farming and ethanol interests that are influential in heartland states.

What's next: Cornyn, who represents a state with major oil refiners, said corn interests have reason to come to the table. That's because a 2007 law sets specific requirements for escalating amounts of various kinds of biofuels in the nation's fuel mix through 2022, but after that puts full authority over the levels in the hands of EPA regulators.

"It's in their interest to engage because after 2022 the mandate goes away and goes to the EPA administrator, and the EPA has been somewhat skeptical about ethanol and its viability long term," he said. Rep. John Shimkus, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is working on a parallel effort across the Capitol.

Go deeper

The growing focus on environmental justice could influence Biden's platform

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The killing of George Floyd in police custody and protests against systemic racism are prompting many green groups to declare their support for racial justice, and one thing to watch now is how this all might influence Joe Biden's platform.

Driving the news: Even before the recent mass upheaval in response to Floyd's death, Biden said he was expanding outreach and eyeing wider plans around environmental justice, or the disproportionate pollution burdens facing poor communities and people of color.

4 hours ago - Technology

The slippery slope of protest surveillance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's call to treat antifa supporters like terrorists could be a green light for high-tech surveillance of dissidents.

Why it matters: It's unlikely the Trump administration can designate antifa as a terrorist group in any legally meaningful way, but the declaration gives law enforcement tacit approval to use a plethora of tech tools to monitor protesters and left-leaning activists.

The biggest crisis since 1968

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor

The year 1968 has been on a lot of people’s minds lately — another year of protests, violence and upheaval that seemed to be tearing the nation apart.

Yes, but: This crisis also has moments we’ve never seen before — and some historians and experts say the differences suggest that 2020 doesn't compare well at all.