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In boon for farmers, President Trump lifting restrictions on ethanol

President Donald Trump

'It's an amazing substance.'

Posted: Oct 8, 2018 8:19 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 4:51 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for Iowa and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-ethanol blends during a trip to Iowa on Tuesday.

"It's an amazing substance. You look at the Indy cars. They run 100 percent on ethanol," Trump said at the White House before leaving for Iowa.

He said he wants more energy production and to help farmers and refiners.

"I want more because I don't like $74," Trump said referring to the current price of a barrel of crude oil. "If I have to do more — whether it's through ethanol or another means — that's what I want. I want low prices."

The long-expected announcement is something of a reward to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman led a contentious but successful fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The veteran Republican lawmaker is the Senate's leading ethanol proponent and sharply criticized the Trump administration's proposed rollback in ethanol volumes earlier this year.

Grassley called the proposal "a very good victory for agriculture," ethanol workers and the environment. "Everything about this is good, good, good," Grassley said Tuesday after he and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, met with Trump at the White House.

A senior administration official said Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency will publish a rule to allow high-ethanol blends as part of a package of proposed changes to the ethanol mandate. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump's announcement.

The change would allow year-round sales of gasoline blends with up to 15 percent ethanol. Gasoline typically contains 10 percent ethanol.

The EPA currently bans the high-ethanol blend, called E15, during the summer because of concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days, a claim ethanol industry advocates say is unfounded.

In May, Republican senators, including Grassley, announced a tentative agreement with the White House to allow year-round E15 sales, but the EPA did not propose a formal rule change.

The senior administration official said the proposed rule intends to allow E15 sales next summer. Current regulations prevent retailers in much of the country from offering E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15.

Lifting the summer ban is expected to be coupled with new restrictions on trading biofuel credits that underpin the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, commonly known as the ethanol mandate. The law sets out how much corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels refiners must blend into gasoline each year.

The Renewable Fuel Standard was intended to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and bolster the rural economy by requiring a steady increase in renewable fuels over time. The mandate has not worked as intended, and production levels of renewable fuels, mostly ethanol, routinely fail to reach minimum thresholds set in law.

The oil industry opposes year-round sales of E15, warning that high-ethanol gasoline can damage engines and fuel systems of older cars and motorcycles. Some carmakers have warned against high-ethanol blends, though EPA has approved use of E15 in all light-duty vehicles built since 2001.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, many from oil-producing states, sent Trump a letter last week opposing expanded sales of high-ethanol gas. The lawmakers called the approach "misguided" and said it would do nothing to protect refinery jobs and "could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher-ethanol blended gasoline."

The letter was signed by 16 Republicans and four Democrats, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment Committee.

A spokeswoman for the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group, said allowing E15 to be sold year-round would give consumers greater access to clean, low-cost, higher-octane fuel while expanding market access for ethanol producers.

"The ability to sell E15 all year would also bring a significant boost to farmers across our country" and provide a significant economic boost to rural America, said spokeswoman Rachel Gantz.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 697182

Reported Deaths: 8169
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1427711862
Ramsey59431953
Dakota53075503
Anoka48987486
Washington31228315
Stearns25428242
St. Louis20900339
Scott20039146
Wright18954165
Olmsted16269112
Sherburne13840106
Carver1237052
Clay936897
Rice9278125
Blue Earth888747
Crow Wing8070102
Kandiyohi753292
Chisago733858
Otter Tail689897
Benton6653102
Mower576238
Winona564852
Goodhue560581
Douglas549484
Beltrami534672
Itasca532572
Steele520221
McLeod519665
Isanti500470
Morrison478263
Nobles455650
Becker455060
Polk444575
Freeborn438142
Lyon402454
Carlton399160
Nicollet387848
Pine384026
Mille Lacs363860
Brown358244
Cass355536
Le Sueur348230
Todd333034
Meeker314049
Waseca297626
Martin271633
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Hubbard241941
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Houston211217
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Rock142919
Jackson136112
Pope13378
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Pipestone126126
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Swift120319
Murray117610
Stevens110011
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Marshall107619
Lake94321
Wilkin91014
Lac qui Parle89424
Mahnomen7339
Big Stone7024
Grant6938
Norman6829
Lincoln6724
Kittson54222
Unassigned52893
Red Lake5067
Traverse4375
Lake of the Woods4204
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443535

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Unassigned50150
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
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Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
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Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
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Ida109838
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Greene103012
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Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
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