Big Corn says 'no deal' after White House biofuels meeting
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks at an event for Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in Urbandale, Iowa, in this file photo taken January 30, 2016. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/Files)

A meeting between President Donald Trump and senators representing both the oil and corn industries failed to yield an agreement on how best to lower the cost of the United States' biofuels policy to refiners.

"No deal made," said Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a key participant in the talks representing corn growers, in a post on Twitter after the meeting.

Trump had called the meeting amid rising concern in the White House over the current state of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a law requiring refiners to mix biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel.

The decade-old policy, intended to help farmers and reduce U.S. petroleum imports, has increasingly divided two of Trump's most important constituencies. A refining company in the key electoral state of Pennsylvania last month blamed the regulation for its bankruptcy.

The meeting included Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, along with Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were also due to attend, according to sources briefed on the meeting.

The White House had confirmed the meeting, but did not immediately comment after it concluded. Representatives for the other senators and the agencies also did not immediately comment.

Under the RFS, refiners must earn or purchase biofuel blending credits called RINs to prove to the federal government that enough biofuels are being blended into their gasoline and diesel to comply with the policy.

As biofuels volume quotas have increased over the years, however, so have prices for the credits. Refiners that do not have their own blending facilities are required to buy the credits and are facing rising costs.

Oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which employs more than 1,000 people in the Philadelphia area, filed for bankruptcy protection last month and blamed the regulation for its demise.

Reuters reported that other factors may also have played a role in the bankruptcy, including the withdrawal of more than $590 million in dividend-style payments from the company by its investor owners.

Other refiners, such as vocal RFS-opponent Valero Energy Corp and Marathon Petroleum Corp, are pulling in solid profits despite the biofuels regulation.

America's biggest ethanol producers include Archer Daniels Midland Co and POET LLC.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas)