Trump considers biofuel quota increase

The Trump administration is considering ramping up biofuel blending quotas in the coming years to assuage anger in the Farm Belt over its recent broad use of waivers for small refineries, but is not planning to rescind any of the exemptions it has granted so far, four people familiar with the matter said.

The approach would mark a mixed result for the agriculture industry and its backers who had been pushing the administration to revoke some of the exemptions, which they argue hurt demand for corn-based ethanol by freeing refiners from their obligation to blend biofuels into their products.

The proposals emerged a day after President Trump on Thursday summoned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to the White House to discuss ways to boost biofuel demand.

The meeting was set after Trump’s decision this month to allow the EPA to grant 31 biofuel waivers to oil refiners caused an uproar in farm states key to the Republican president’s reelection bid in 2020.

In the meeting, Trump rejected a proposal from the Agriculture Department to rescind some of the recently approved waivers, according to the people familiar with the matter and a list of items that were largely agreed upon.

Instead, the administration is considering lifting its proposed 2020 annual corn-based ethanol mandate by 500 million gallons and 2021 biodiesel mandate by 250 million gallons. It is also looking to reallocate volumes expected to be waived going forward.

— Reuters


Major publishers file suit against Audible

Some of the country’s top publishers are suing Audible, citing copyright infringement as they ask a federal judge to enjoin the audiobook producer-distributor’s planned use of captions for an education-driven program.

The “Big Five” of publishing — Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers and Macmillan Publishers — are among the plaintiffs in the suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The legal action comes in response to “Audible Captions,” which Audible announced in July and indicated would be formally launched as students return this fall, with titles including “Catch-22,” ‘’The Hunger Games” and “The Hate U Give.”

Other publishers suing are Scholastic and Chronicle Books. Audible, which is owned by Amazon and is the dominant producer in the thriving audiobook market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

— Associated Press

Also in Business

British Airways pilots will strike for three days next month after their union said the latest pay proposals from the carrier are insufficient. Members of the British Airlines Pilots' Association will walk out Sept. 9, 10 and 27, the labor group said in a statement Friday. The union had been considering its position since mediated talks with management ended last week.

Volkswagen said Friday it is recalling 679,000 U.S. vehicles sold since 2011 that could roll away because of an electrical issue. The automaker said drivers could remove the key after stopping without placing the car in park, which increases the risk the vehicle could roll away. VW said a build up of silicate on the shift lever micro switch contacts is to blame.

A court in Nebraska on Friday affirmed an alternative route in the Midwest state for TC Energy's Keystone XL oil pipeline in the latest chapter in the nearly 10-year legal fight over the Canada to Texas pipeline. Keystone XL would ship 830,000 barrels per day of crude from the oil marketing hub of Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb., where it would link into an existing network feeding the Gulf Coast.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes sank more than expected in July, a sign that the housing market continued in low gear despite lower mortgage rates and a strong labor market. The Commerce Department said on Friday that new-home sales dropped 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000 units last month. It was the biggest monthly decline since July 2013.

— From news services