Officials to meet with refinery officials over stalled biofuel deal

The White House on Wednesday will hold meetings with representatives from both the biofuel and oil refining industries as the Trump administration seeks to hash out a deal to help farmers by pumping up U.S. ethanol demand, sources familiar with the matter said.

The separate meetings will discuss the Trump administration’s plan to increase biofuel blending mandates, after its decision last month to exempt 31 refineries from an obligation to blend ethanol with gasoline stoked anger in the Farm Belt.

The negotiations reflect the difficulty President Donald Trump has had winning over both the oil and corn industries, two key electoral constituencies that have for years clashed over the future of U.S. biofuel policy.

White House officials are expected to meet with companies including Louis Dreyfus and Renewable Energy Group early Wednesday, sources told Reuters on Tuesday. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to lead the meeting.

Hours later, officials are due to meet with oil refining companies such as Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum Corp and Valero Energy Corp, two sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Trump, after learning that his administration’s decision to approve 31 waivers to oil refiners angered farmers, promised to deliver a “giant package” related to ethanol.

So far, a proposal by the administration to boost nationwide blending quotas by a billion gallons next year has fallen short of the demands of farmers and the biofuel industry.

The agricultural industry wants the administration to force larger refineries to make up for the exempted gallons through a process called “reallocation,” which would ensure the increases were recurring annually and not just a once-off, but has yet not committed to it. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Susan Fenton and Chizu Nomiyama)

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