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RINs prices rebounding as fears calm over Pruitt appointment

Houston — US Renewable Identification Number prices continued to rebound Thursday after tanking last week, as worries over Scott Pruitt's nomination to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency calmed.

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"[RINs] plummeted on the EPA appointment," said one source. "Now that they realize he isn't going to attack the RFS, they are just going right back."

S&P Global Platts assessed ethanol RINs for 2016 compliance at 99.75 cents/RIN Thursday, up 6.75 cents on the day.

President-elect Donald Trump officially tapped Pruitt, the current attorney general of Oklahoma and outspoken critic of what Pruitt has called "the EPA's activist agenda," as his pick for EPA head on December 8.



But after initially dropping on the news, RINs are now up 9.75 cents from the 93-cent/RIN bottom of their rout reached on December 9, the day after Pruitt's selection. The fall actually began December 7, when news broke that he likely would be appointed, and amounted to a 23-cent decline over the three-day period.

Terry Branstad, the governor of Iowa, said in a Monday press conference that Trump has reassured him of Pruitt's commitment to the RFS.

"The first thing Trump told me was don't worry about [Pruitt], he's going to be for ethanol," Branstad said, talking about Trump's thank you tour in Des Moines. "I think that was the condition [Trump] laid out when he appointed him."

Iowa is the largest ethanol-producing state in the US.

Biofuels industry groups were also slow to criticize Trump's pick, instead looking at him as a potential ally.

The Advanced Biofuels Business Council said it saw little reason to worry about Pruitt running the EPA, in a statement released shortly after his appointment.

"It is easy to look at Mr. Pruitt's prior statements on biofuels and sound the alarm, but as EPA chief he would not be representing just Oklahoma interests," Brooke Coleman, the group's executive director, said in the statement.

"With OPEC agreeing...to crank oil prices back up, why would Mr. Pruitt engineer an attack on the RFS and help OPEC attack renewable fuels in a part of the country that got Trump elected? We think Mr. Pruitt will take a thoughtful, national look at the issue, and we look forward to working with him," Coleman said.

Pruitt has called the Renewable Fuel Standard "unworkable" in the past and challenged in court filings the EPA's partial waiver for E15, gasoline blended with up to 15% ethanol.

But Iowa's Branstad finished his remarks on his state's biofuels interests by saying he felt at ease about Trump's pick.

"Trump's a pretty blunt, direct guy, so [his comments] were reassuring to me."

--Josh Pedrick, joshua.pedrick@spglobal.com
--Anthony Garcia, anthony.garcia1@spglobal.com
--Edited by Lisa Miller, lisa.miller@spglobal.com