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Trump reaches tentative deal to boost biofuels, amid pressure from farm states

Trump reaches tentative biofuel deal

President Trump has tentatively agreed to a plan for bolstering ethanol and biodiesel, amid pressure from U.S. senators from the Midwest who warned the president that without action, he risks votes in next year’s election.

The blueprint discussed in a meeting at the White House calls for the administration to make up for three years’ worth of waived biofuel quotas tied to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to exempt some oil refineries from annual blending requirements. That comes on top of other concessions that administration officials had already developed with the aim of encouraging greater U.S. demand for ethanol made from corn.

The draft plan was described by people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private. If the deal becomes final, the administration would begin reallocating waived quotas over multiple years, starting with 2020 targets.

The plan was hashed out by Trump, as well as a representative of Archer Daniels Midland and senators from corn-growing and ethanol-producing states in a meeting at the White House on Thursday. For weeks, the Trump administration has been trying to develop a plan for soothing a backlash in the Midwest over the oil refinery waivers, amid concerns it could hurt Trump’s reelection chances in Iowa and other politically important farm states.

— Bloomberg News

UAW contract talks extended amid probe

The United Auto Workers union agreed to temporary contract extensions with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Friday as it grappled with a federal corruption probe that has implicated its president.

But a Saturday midnight deadline for the UAW to agree on a new four-year labor contract with General Motors currently remains in place, a union spokesman said.

UAW President Gary Jones and his predecessor were two of the unnamed officials singled out in a federal criminal complaint released Thursday detailing alleged corruption and embezzlement by union leaders, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The complaint has raised questions, not only about the once-powerful union’s leadership, but about the status of the collective bargaining talks with Detroit’s automakers.

The complaint detailed charges against Jones’s former second-in-command and successor as head of the UAW’s “Region 5,” Vance Pearson.

It also referred frequently to several unnamed figures, in particular “Official A,” who is Jones, and “Official B,” his predecessor Dennis Williams, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The union has targeted GM as the one it wanted to conclude contract talks with and set a pattern for subsequent agreements.

— Reuters

The Houston Ship Channel reopened for vessel traffic, the U.S. Coast Guard said, after the last of 11 protesters who had disrupted traffic by dangling on ropes above the key energy-export waterway was removed by police earlier in the morning. A large portion of the channel was closed when Greenpeace protesters attached themselves and banners to a bridge over the waterway to bring attention to climate change during the Democratic presidential debate.

PG&E said it has reached an $11 billion settlement to resolve most claims by insurance carriers related to 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California. It is the second major settlement of wildfire claims by PG&E, and requires approval by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the utility's Chapter 11 case.

United Parcel Service has agreed to pay the United States $8.4 million to resolve allegations it overcharged federal agencies for package delivery services, the U.S. Justice Department said. The settlement resolves allegations that from 2007 to 2014, UPS failed to follow a General Services Administration contract requiring it to provide agencies with certain agreed discounts, the government said.

U.S. retail sales rose moderately in August, driven higher by a jump in auto buying and healthy online sales, evidence that consumers are still spending enough to support growth. The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month, down from a strong 0.8 percent in July.

— From news services