EPA had proposed in July to roll back the biofuels requirement, but was met with sharp criticism from Corn Belt lawmakers such as powerful Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. That ultimately led EPA to back down, in a rare loss for the petroleum sector under President Trump.
The ruling is an attempt to placate Republicans from both oil and corn states, but as The Washington Post's Dino Grandoni writes, nobody's happy about it--which may be the sign of a good compromise. Grassley said in a statement about yesterday's decision that the "renewable volume obligations fall short of the full potential of the U.S. biofuels industry." Chet Thompson, president of the trade group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said, "It appears that EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to King Corn." Grandoni also points out that neither side wants to look too happy with the results, since that could undermine their lobbying efforts for next year's standard.