By Alan Zibel, Public Citizen
Carl Icahn must be getting grouchy these days.
Icahn, the activist investor, friend and adviser to President Donald Trump, has used his role as a friend and adviser to the president to push for in federal fuel regulations that would mean big profits for Icahn and a company he controls.
Icahn’s big bet against biofuels was looking like it would pay off a few months ago. But a court ruling on Friday throws it into jeopardy. Reuters reported that Icahn’s gamble is “looking increasingly risky in the wake of a Friday court ruling that will likely boost the cost of complying with the program.”
The court ruling rejects an Obama administration decision to lower the amount of biofuels that need to be mixed into fuel under an energy law passed in 2005. The decision is expected to help makers of biofuels and harm refiners, who have to comply with federal renewable fuels mandate enacted under President George W. Bush.
A company controlled by Icahn, CVR Energy, is required to purchase credits to comply. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to cut back on biofuel use, but the new decision may force the Trump administration to reconsider that decision.
In his role as special adviser Icahn has official public platform to push for changes to this mandate and associated program – and stands to benefit from his bet against prices for biofuel credits.
Disturbed by this blatant conflict of interest, Public Citizen in March called on Congress to investigate whether Icahn, Icahn Enterprises or CVR Energy are violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act in pushing Trump to change the structure of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard in a way that would be profitable for Icahn.
Given that Icahn stands to reap windfall profits on his bet against biofuels, Icahn is unlikely to give up. Don’t be surprised if Icahn takes further advantage of his position and political influence to persuade the Trump administration to make further changes to the biofuels rules.