Top corn-state senators have rejected proposals by the Trump administration and fellow Republicans to overhaul a federal biofuels program fiercely opposed by oil refiners.
The impasse signals that the long-burning battle will continue to divide two pillars of President Donald Trump's base: the fossil fuel industry and agricultural states. Ending the clean fuel program is also a top priority for a group of Trump supporters dedicated to rolling back environmental regulations.
Trump has so far rejected calls to alter or scrap the program, but the issue took on greater urgency after Pennsylvania-based refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions blamed its recent bankruptcy on the burden of buying credits.
Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst told reporters no deal had been reached following a White House meeting on Tuesday. The gathering was convened to discuss proposed changes supported by energy state Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, as well as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
While Ernst said Trump signaled his desire to meet with representatives of the ethanol industry, perhaps as soon as Thursday, she indicated the issue likely won't be resolved quickly.
"It's clear that this is going to be a very tough road ahead," Ernst said.
"We're going to be fighting this out."