The relationship between big oil and big corn has been tenuous at best for years, but with historic declines in fuel consumption due to COVID-19, the fight has reignited in a major way. Oil refiners and their allies from the Gulf Coast and Pennsylvania are in a serious policy battle with ethanol producers, corn farmers and Midwest politicians. At the heart of the disagreement is that the oil refining industry is seeking waivers from biofuel blending requirements resulting from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Big Corn and Big Oil have been dueling over the future of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires oil refiners to mix biofuels like corn-heavy ethanol into their fuel. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires refineries to blend increasing volumes of biofuels into their fuel each year. The proposed plan would include an increase to biofuels requirements for 2020 of 1 billion gallons (3.8 billion liters) and the agricultural industry wants the administration to force larger refineries to make up for the exempted gallons through reallocation. The proposed plan, discusses 500 million gallons for conventional biofuels and 500 million gallons for advanced biofuels (like biodiesel).
As the summer driving season shifts into high gear, consumers are well aware of gasoline prices and the impact the price will have on their summer travels. Although gasoline makes up 90% of the gallons we purchase for our vehicles, the product that makes up the additional 10% (Ethanol) can have a big impact on the price we pay.