As a former senator from an agricultural state and a former U.S. Energy secretary, I want to see both American agriculture and our independent refineries succeed. Unfortunately, the current structure of the federal biofuel mandate — called the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS — fails to achieve these goals.
The broken credit system set up to track RFS compliance has resulted in a multibillion-dollar government commodity that enriches Wall Street speculators and global oil giants at the expense of independent American refiners. Furthermore, it does little to greatly advance biofuel consumption. President Trump must act to fix this broken system in a manner that protects domestic manufacturing jobs while ensuring robust biofuel consumption.
The RFS requires certain volumes of biofuel, primarily ethanol, to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply. Refiners are responsible for complying with this mandate, which is tracked with credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). These are separated from ethanol and other biofuel when it is blended into gasoline at large terminals, before it is shipped to local gas stations.