2020

FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea's then Prime Minister Peter O'Neill makes an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia
FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea’s then Prime Minister Peter O’Neill makes an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo

May 27, 2019

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Political turmoil in Papua New Guinea threatened to delay a $13 billion plan to double the country’s gas exports, sending shares in one of the project’s partners, Oil Search Ltd, down nearly 4% on Monday.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said on Sunday he would resign after weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party. Sir Julius Chan, twice a former premier, would take over as the government’s leader, O’Neill said.

Political instability is not unusual in Papua New Guinea and has not held back mining and energy investments in the resource-rich country, however protests over benefits failing to reach rural areas have dogged the government and project owners.

It was not clear whether Chan could command a majority in parliament when it resumes on Tuesday.

“We will not choose him. It’s a really bad choice,” opposition lawmaker Allan Bird told Reuters in a text message.

“We want a complete break from O’Neill (and) Chan is just a proxy for O’Neill,” he said.

Chan said on Monday he had been approached by both the government and the opposition to take the role.

“This is not a position I am seeking,” he said in a statement. “However, I love Papua New Guinea, and there is a desperate need right now to unite the country … and to make the wealth of this country work to the benefit of the people of this country.”

O’Neill had resisted calls to resign for weeks but his opponents said on Friday they had rallied enough support in parliament to oust him over a range of grievances, including a gas deal agreed in April with France’s Total SA.

The deal with Total set the terms for developing the Elk and Antelope gas fields, which will feed two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) production units at the PNG LNG plant, run by ExxonMobil Corp.

At the same time, ExxonMobil and its partners are planning to build a third new unit at the PNG plant, to be partly fed by another new gas field, P’nyang.

Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic said the political upheaval could put pressure on the government to negotiate tough terms for the P’nyang gas agreement, which is yet to be finalised, and affect talks on development costs.

“Both these factors heighten the risk of delay,” he said in a note to clients.

Any delays in the P’nyang agreement could hold up a final investment decision on the PNG LNG expansion, which is set to double the plant’s capacity to 16 million tonnes a year.

The uncertainty sent shares in Oil Search, a partner in PNG LNG and Papua LNG, down as much as 3.9% in early trading on Monday. Energy stocks rose 0.6%.

ExxonMobil and its partners had hoped to begin basic engineering planning for the expansion by mid-2019 and make a final investment decision in 2020.

They are racing against projects in Mozambique, Qatar, North America and Australia to produce LNG from the expansion by 2024 to fill an expected gap in the global LNG market. ExxonMobil and Total both have LNG projects elsewhere that could take priority if PNG politics delays them, Kavonic said.

RBC analyst Ben Wilson said he did not think a final investment decision in 2020 was at risk yet and played down the threat that the PNG opposition would seek to renegotiate the LNG agreement.

“Sanctity of contract is critical to ongoing investment in PNG and to the success of future potential sovereign bond issuances,” Wilson said.

Total and Oil Search representatives were not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Sonali Paul; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: OANN

An earth mover prepares the foundation of new apartment block development in the waterfront suburb of Rushcutters Bay
An earth mover prepares the foundation of new apartment block development in the waterfront suburb of Rushcutters Bay, Australia, December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

May 26, 2019

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s crumbling housing market looks set to stabilize over coming months as hopes of interest rate cuts and loosening of mortgage rules have boosted buyer inquiries, property and mortgage brokers say.

Home prices across Australia have fallen rapidly since late-2017, heightening worries among policymakers that a prolonged decline would deal a severe blow to the country’s already slowing economy.

While industry watchers say a return to boom times is unlikely anytime soon, they point to signs suggesting a bottoming-out for the sector is imminent.

Economists, including those at AMP and Citibank, last week re-jigged their forecasts to pencil in a less steeper decline in home prices than previously predicted. Several property and mortgage brokers who spoke to Reuters on Friday also said they have seen a noticeable jump in customer inquiries, including from those buying a home for investment.

“The sun is shining all over again now,” said mortgage broker Tony Bice at Sydney-based Finance Made Easy.

Bice cited the unexpected re-election of the country’s pro-business coalition government a little over a week ago and predictions of an Australia rate cut as soon as next month for the improvement in sentiment.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) proposal to ease stress test on mortgages was the “most interesting” policy change, Bice said. Analysts expect the regulator’s move would boost customers’ borrowing capacity.

“My inquiries since the last week has risen dramatically. I have written 11 loans in the last 4 days. In the past, you’d be lucky to write 11 loans in two weeks.” Bice told Reuters.

“A lot of my clients are holding off until June to see what the Reserve Bank does. If they drop the cash rate, I expect banks to follow suit. That will finally revive the market.”

With growth sputtering and inflation at a low ebb, Philip Lowe, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last week gave the strongest signal yet that rates were about to move lower soon. And an overwhelming majority of economists are now predicting a cut in the cash rate to 1.25% from a record-low of 1.5% at the RBA’s June 4 policy meeting.

UNDER THE HAMMER

Auction activity – a closely-watched measure of demand in Australia – over the weekend provided the first major test for the market following the policy changes.

There were 1,933 capital city auctions on Saturday, double the amount from the previous week, and preliminary data showed a modest pick-up in demand. Clearance rates nudged above 60% for the two biggest cities of Sydney and Melbourne, compared to 50%-57% over the past year.

The promise of lower rates and easy credit led economists to predict a less steeper drop in home prices. Citi now sees a peak-to-trough fall of 7.5% by June 2019 from 10% previously. AMP’s Shane Oliver predicts a 12% top-to-bottom decline, from an earlier forecast of 15%.

Yet, few expect the boom days to return in a hurry.

“We see broadly flat house prices for 2020,” Oliver said.

“Given still high house prices and poor affordability, still very high debt levels, tighter lending standards and rising unemployment a quick return to boom time conditions is most unlikely.”

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

An earth mover prepares the foundation of new apartment block development in the waterfront suburb of Rushcutters Bay
An earth mover prepares the foundation of new apartment block development in the waterfront suburb of Rushcutters Bay, Australia, December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

May 26, 2019

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s crumbling housing market looks set to stabilize over coming months as hopes of interest rate cuts and loosening of mortgage rules have boosted buyer inquiries, property and mortgage brokers say.

Home prices across Australia have fallen rapidly since late-2017, heightening worries among policymakers that a prolonged decline would deal a severe blow to the country’s already slowing economy.

While industry watchers say a return to boom times is unlikely anytime soon, they point to signs suggesting a bottoming-out for the sector is imminent.

Economists, including those at AMP and Citibank, last week re-jigged their forecasts to pencil in a less steeper decline in home prices than previously predicted. Several property and mortgage brokers who spoke to Reuters on Friday also said they have seen a noticeable jump in customer inquiries, including from those buying a home for investment.

“The sun is shining all over again now,” said mortgage broker Tony Bice at Sydney-based Finance Made Easy.

Bice cited the unexpected re-election of the country’s pro-business coalition government a little over a week ago and predictions of an Australia rate cut as soon as next month for the improvement in sentiment.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) proposal to ease stress test on mortgages was the “most interesting” policy change, Bice said. Analysts expect the regulator’s move would boost customers’ borrowing capacity.

“My inquiries since the last week has risen dramatically. I have written 11 loans in the last 4 days. In the past, you’d be lucky to write 11 loans in two weeks.” Bice told Reuters.

“A lot of my clients are holding off until June to see what the Reserve Bank does. If they drop the cash rate, I expect banks to follow suit. That will finally revive the market.”

With growth sputtering and inflation at a low ebb, Philip Lowe, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last week gave the strongest signal yet that rates were about to move lower soon. And an overwhelming majority of economists are now predicting a cut in the cash rate to 1.25% from a record-low of 1.5% at the RBA’s June 4 policy meeting.

UNDER THE HAMMER

Auction activity – a closely-watched measure of demand in Australia – over the weekend provided the first major test for the market following the policy changes.

There were 1,933 capital city auctions on Saturday, double the amount from the previous week, and preliminary data showed a modest pick-up in demand. Clearance rates nudged above 60% for the two biggest cities of Sydney and Melbourne, compared to 50%-57% over the past year.

The promise of lower rates and easy credit led economists to predict a less steeper drop in home prices. Citi now sees a peak-to-trough fall of 7.5% by June 2019 from 10% previously. AMP’s Shane Oliver predicts a 12% top-to-bottom decline, from an earlier forecast of 15%.

Yet, few expect the boom days to return in a hurry.

“We see broadly flat house prices for 2020,” Oliver said.

“Given still high house prices and poor affordability, still very high debt levels, tighter lending standards and rising unemployment a quick return to boom time conditions is most unlikely.”

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Makela

May 26, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agree on their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Sunday.

North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a blistering attack last week on Biden, who has been critical of the reclusive communist state in the past.

“I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” Sanders said of Trump and Kim. She was speaking from Japan during a state visit by Trump.

“The president doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He’s given his own assessment a number of times.”

Trump, a Republican, referenced the criticism in a Twitter post on Saturday in which he mentioned Biden, a Democrat who is running for president, initially misspelling his name as Bidan and taking pleasure in the North Korean leader’s sharp rhetoric about a fellow American.

Trump said in a subsequent corrected tweet that he smiled when Kim “called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

Trump on Sunday dismissed concerns about recent missile launches from North Korea and said he was confident that Kim would keep promises that he had made.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri reacts after the announcement of the new government at the presidential palace in Baabda
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri reacts, after the announcement of the new government at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

May 26, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Lebanese draft state budget for 2019 is the start of a “long road” and shows Lebanon is determined to tackle public sector waste, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said, after his unity cabinet wrapped up marathon talks on the plan.

The budget finalised by the government on Friday cuts the deficit to 7.5% of GDP from 11.5% in 2018. It is seen as a critical test of Lebanon’s will to launch reforms that have been put off for years by a state riddled with corruption and waste.

“The 2019 budget is not the end. This budget is the beginning of a long road that we decided to take in order to lead the Lebanese economy to safety,” Hariri said in a speech at a Ramadan iftar meal on Saturday.

Lebanon’s bloated public sector is its biggest expense, followed by the cost of servicing a public debt equal to some 150% of GDP, one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens.

The government, which groups nearly all of Lebanon’s main political parties, met 19 times to agree on the budget. Hariri said the budget for 2020 would not take that much time “because now we know what we want to do”.

“The 2019 budget is the beginning of the process of what we want to do in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks sent by his office. 

The cabinet is due to meet on Monday at the presidential palace to formally seal the process before the budget is referred to parliament.

The budget could help unlock some $11 billion in financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year for infrastructure investment, if it wins the approval of donor countries and institutions.

Hariri said the budget was a message to the Lebanese, financial markets and friendly foreign states that Lebanon was determined to “address the weakness, imbalance and squander in the public sector”.

Measures to rein in the public sector wage bill include a three-year freeze in all types of state hiring and a cap on extra-salary bonuses. State pensions will also be taxed.

A big chunk of the deficit cut stems from tax increases including a 2% import tax and a hike in tax on interest payments.

The government also plans to cut some $660 million from the debt servicing bill by issuing treasury bonds at a 1% interest rate to the Lebanese banking sector.

Fears the budget would lead to cuts to state salaries, pensions or benefits triggered weeks of strikes and protests by public sector workers and military veterans.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

In what has become an unprecedented partisan abuse of legislative power, the Democrats have made a series of moves intended on undermining the Executive office at the expense of our Constitutional Republic.

In the epicenter of the madness, Washington DC Impeachment zealots are scurrying around the hallowed halls of Congress in a desperate bid to distract the public from the growing panic regarding the Spygate investigation into the Obama Administration, which could pull the rug out from under the Democrats’ chances in the upcoming election.

AP reports, “President Donald Trump on Thursday granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation…Trump is giving Barr a new tool in his investigation, empowering his attorney general to unilaterally unseal documents that the Justice Department has historically regarded as among its most highly secret.”

Trump explicitly delegated Barr with declassification power — noting it would not automatically extend to another attorney general — and only for use in the review of the Russia investigation. Before using the new authority, Barr should consult with intelligence officials “to the extent he deems it practicable,” Trump wrote in a memo formalizing the matter.

Outside Washington DC, congressional Democrats are wreaking havoc on the future of the Presidential election, whether their constituents want it or not. 18 states are considering bills that would require Presidential candidates to disclose their taxes in order to be on the 2020 election ballot. Out of those 18 States, only Vermont would require candidates for governor and other statewide offices to disclose at least part of their tax returns.

Meanwhile, as the Washington Times reports, the Nevada Senate approved a National Popular Vote bill, intended on undermining the electoral college, which now goes to the Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk.

“Assembly Bill 186 would bring Nevada into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Nevada would become the 16th jurisdiction to join the compact, along with 14 states and the District of Columbia.”

Source: InfoWars

Spread the love

Primarily through his son Hunter, former vice president and now 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden has been “offshoring” corruption, contends investigative journalist and author Peter Schweizer.

He explains in the first episode of a new series called “The Drill Down with Peter Schweizer” that bank documents entered in a court case “shed light on just how much money [foreign] oligarchs were sending to the Biden family while he was vice president.”

As WND reported in an interview story, Schweizer’s 2018 bestselling book “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends” spells out the financial deals Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured in Ukraine and China while his father, as vice president, was negotiating U.S. foreign policy with those countries.

Schweizer’s book centers on what he calls “corruption by proxy,” in which family and friends of powerful political figures position themselves as middlemen, creating “previously unimaginable pathways to wealth.”

Regarding the Bidens, the records of just one bank account show $3.1 million from the Ukrainians flowed in over an 18-month period, Schweizer said.

“There was $142,000 that showed up from a Kazakh oligarch, and then there was a mysterious $1.2 million from a limited liability company that nobody seems to know where it exists [and] that funneled the money to a small Swiss bank that has been implicated in international money laundering,” Schweizer said.

Flowing out of the account, he said, is “hundreds of thousands of dollars into the personal banking accounts of Hunter Biden himself.”

Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/biden-money-trail-exposed-in-court-documents/#zwiLlZRsRRdDYVwP.99

Spread the love

Primarily through his son Hunter, former vice president and now 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden has been “offshoring” corruption, contends investigative journalist and author Peter Schweizer.

He explains in the first episode of a new series called “The Drill Down with Peter Schweizer” that bank documents entered in a court case “shed light on just how much money [foreign] oligarchs were sending to the Biden family while he was vice president.”

As WND reported in an interview story, Schweizer’s 2018 bestselling book “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends” spells out the financial deals Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured in Ukraine and China while his father, as vice president, was negotiating U.S. foreign policy with those countries.

Schweizer’s book centers on what he calls “corruption by proxy,” in which family and friends of powerful political figures position themselves as middlemen, creating “previously unimaginable pathways to wealth.”

Regarding the Bidens, the records of just one bank account show $3.1 million from the Ukrainians flowed in over an 18-month period, Schweizer said.

“There was $142,000 that showed up from a Kazakh oligarch, and then there was a mysterious $1.2 million from a limited liability company that nobody seems to know where it exists [and] that funneled the money to a small Swiss bank that has been implicated in international money laundering,” Schweizer said.

Flowing out of the account, he said, is “hundreds of thousands of dollars into the personal banking accounts of Hunter Biden himself.”

Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/biden-money-trail-exposed-in-court-documents/#zwiLlZRsRRdDYVwP.99

A flood of laws banning abortions in Republican-run states has handed Democrats a political weapon heading into next year’s elections, helping them paint the GOP as extreme and court centrist voters who could decide congressional races in swing states, members of both parties say.

The Alabama law outlawing virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is the strictest so far. Besides animating Democrats, the law has prompted President Donald Trump, other Republican leaders and lawmakers seeking reelection next year to distance themselves from the measure.

Their reaction underscores that Republicans have risked overplaying their hand with severe state laws that they hope will prod the Supreme Court, with its ascendant conservative majority, to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. It also illustrates the way that those statutes are forcing the GOP to struggle over how to satisfy its core anti-abortion supporters without alienating the vast majority of voters averse to strictly curbing abortion.

The Alabama law is “a loser for Republican candidates in Colorado, without question, and in many other swing parts of the country, because it’s extreme,” David Flaherty, a Colorado-based Republican consultant who’s worked on congressional races around the country. “It’s only going to widen the gender gap.”

Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt Law School professor and former aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there are many “women, moderate women who are going to be scared that this right that they thought they had for the last 40-some years is going to be shelved” and they will be motivated to vote.

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine, both seeking reelection next year, said the Alabama ban goes too far by eliminating exceptions for pregnancies involving rape or incest. A 2005 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, which backs abortion rights, found about 1% of women said they had abortions because of rape or incest.

Democrats see the statutes as a way to weave a broader message about Republicans.

“You use it as an example of what they do when they’re unchecked,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., a leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign organization. “I think it drives moderate Republicans away from their party.”

Democratic presidential contenders are competing to lambast the Alabama law, which allows exceptions when the mother’s health is endangered. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called it an “existential threat to the human rights of women,” while former Vice President Joe Biden said GOP hopes of striking down Roe v. Wade are “pernicious and we have to stop it.”

Campaign Facebook and Twitter accounts of Democrats seeking reelection next year, such as Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are littered with posts attacking the harsh restrictions. “The people of Alabama deserve to be on the #rightsideofhistory — not the side of extremists,” Jones tweeted.

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur in the sixth week of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of the country’s 638,000 abortions in 2015, almost two-thirds were performed within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. About 1% were performed during or after the 21st week.

Spotlighting the perilous political territory Republicans are navigating, an April poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans support Roe v. Wade by 2-1. A Gallup poll last year found that 57% of adults who described themselves “pro-life” nonetheless said abortion should be legal if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

The focus on the state measures has also stolen GOP momentum on abortion. Until now, congressional Republicans had spent much of this year forcing Democrats onto the defensive, goading them into blocking bills aimed at curbing the rare abortions performed late in pregnancies and misleadingly accusing them of supporting infanticide.

“Obviously, the attention has shifted,” said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which represents dozens of moderate GOP lawmakers. She said while her group doesn’t think Democrats’ focus on the harsh laws has gained traction, “We are talking about that and how it’s going to play in our districts.”

Some Republicans say the Democratic drive will have minimal impact because the abortion issue drives relatively few voters from each party. Others say GOP candidates should accuse Democrats of extremism by opposing bills restricting abortions late in pregnancy and, if they wish, cite their support for exempting rape and incest victims.

Democrats have “never seen an abortion they don’t like,” said David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee.

Added Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm: “We’re not Alabama state representatives, we’re United States senators. And each of us has to make our positions known.”

Yet the laws have generated energy among abortion-rights groups, which held more than 500 demonstrations and other events this past week. “We will power this movement into 2020. There will be political consequences,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., distanced themselves early last week from the Alabama statute. They were joined Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told The Associated Press, “My position remains unchanged for 25 years. I’m opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother” being in jeopardy.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks in Minneapolis
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar declares her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo

May 25, 2019

By Humeyra Pamuk and Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar on Saturday called for revamping the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules governing how refineries use ethanol in gasoline products, a proposal aimed at the politically critical state of Iowa.

    Part of a series of farm policies that also addressed access to capital and bankruptcy assistance, Klobuchar, a U.S. senator, said the EPA’s waivers that allow refineries to avoid the requirements are “misguided” and said financial institutions are manipulating the biofuels credit trading market.

She called for new compliance standards and additional oversight.

Klobuchar is one of more than 20 Democrats vying for her party’s presidential nomination. If she is going to be successful, her campaign needs to galvanize support in the heavily-agriculture state of Iowa, which holds the first primary contest in the nation. Iowa grows most of the nation’s corn, which is used to produce ethanol.

Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota, another heavily agriculture state which borders Iowa to the north, in the U.S. Senate, has been trailing in polls on the Democratic presidential field.

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll https://tmsnrt.rs/2LeoO8z earlier this month, she garnered support of only 1% of respondents. Former Vice President Joe Biden led the poll, with 29% of Democrats and independents saying they would vote for him in the state nominating contests that begin next winter.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program that mandates ethanol use is a more than decade-old regulation aimed at helping farmers and reducing U.S. dependence on oil. The policy has helped farmers by creating a huge market for ethanol and other biofuels, but oil refiners say compliance is prohibitively expensive.

    Under the program, refiners are required to blend biofuels into the nation’s gasoline pool or purchase credits from those that do, but smaller refineries with a capacity of less than 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) can obtain a “hardship waiver” if they prove that compliance with RFS would cause them significant financial strain.

    The Trump administration made extensive use of such waivers in the last two years, saving refiners money but angering the corn lobby, particularly after major companies like Exxon Mobil Corp received exemptions for certain facilities.

    Ethanol mandates have opened a war between the oil and corn industries. The ethanol industry claims the exemptions have been over-used, threatening demand for corn-based ethanol at a time when farmers are already struggling.

    The policy has helped farmers by creating a 15-billion-gallon-a-year market for corn-based ethanol, but oil refiners have increasingly complained about the expense – particularly when prices are high and volatile.

    RFS and the small refinery waiver program have increasingly emerged as one of the key policy areas that several Democratic presidential hopefuls have raised.

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren earlier this month in a letter to the EPA questioned the agency’s decision to grant a small refinery waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, who is a former adviser to President Donald Trump. She said waivers undermine the renewable program.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN


Current track

Title

Artist