Year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15% ethanol OK'd

The Trump administration is following through on a plan to allow year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15% ethanol.

Posted: May 31, 2019 10:26 AM
Updated: May 31, 2019 1:35 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Trump administration is following through on a plan to allow year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15% ethanol, though some say the move is undercut by a policy that gives oil refineries waivers allowing them to use reduced levels of the additive.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the change Friday, ending a summertime ban on the E15 blend imposed out of concerns for increased smog from the higher ethanol blend. Until the change, the only ethanol blend fuel typically found in summer months was a 10% ethanol blend called E10.

The change also fulfills a pledge that President Donald Trump made to U.S. corn farmers, who see ethanol as an important driver of demand for their crops. Oil refineries have been seeking exemptions from government requirements to include ethanol in their fuel mixes.

Environmental groups contend the U.S. Clean Air Act prohibits year-round sales of E15, and court challenges are expected. Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said Friday the agency is prepared to win a court fight.

Wehrum said Friday in a conference call with reporters that if the agency believed the change ran afoul of the Clean Air Act, "we wouldn't have done it."

Federal law for more than a decade has mandated that oil refineries mix ethanol into their fuel. The Trump administration's former EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, had angered lawmakers, growers and ethanol processors in Iowa and other key election states by granting a spate of exemptions sparing refineries from that mandate.

The dispute sparked a billboard campaign and at least one tractor rally by angry farmers in the Midwest last year, threatening to erode what has been a base of support for Trump.

The change removes a barrier to wider sales of E15 and is expected to expand the market for ethanol — although immediate effects on the market are expected to be minimal. Only about 1,000 to 1,500 of more than 150,000 U.S. gas stations currently sell the higher-ethanol blend, Wehrum said.

"It'll take some time" to see an overall jump in E15 sales, he said.

Friday's announcement was widely lauded by Midwest lawmakers, farm groups and the biofuel industry.

"Our corn farmers are experiencing a perfect storm of economic and weather difficulties. This is a sign that the skies could be clearing," said Ted Mottaz, a farmer from Elmwood, Illinois, and president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

Corn is by far the most widely used base to make ethanol in the U.S.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, said in a statement that the EPA deserves credit for making the change ahead of this year's summer driving season.

"Year-round E15 opens up a vital new market, where innovators in advanced and cellulosic biofuels will have space to grow alongside American farmers," Coleman said.

Some ethanol industry leaders and lawmakers said that while the change was welcome, the EPA's practice under the Trump administration of granting ethanol-blending waivers to oil refineries is still hurting ethanol producers and corn growers.

For the federal Renewable Fuel Standard to remain strong, "the EPA must act to curb the excessive use of Small Refinery Exemptions for some of the largest, most profitable oil companies," Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack said in a statement. Those oil companies receiving the waivers include Exxon Mobile and Chevron.

The EPA move Friday also implements a regulatory change in the ethanol program intended to curb what the oil industry believes in price manipulation in the ethanol program. Wehrum said the regulatory change makes more transparent how ethanol tax credits are applied by ethanol blenders.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
Olmsted1185990
Sherburne878574
Carver787641
Clay695588
Rice677691
Blue Earth601035
Kandiyohi581274
Crow Wing523582
Chisago501745
Otter Tail486071
Benton450990
Winona419749
Mower410831
Douglas394568
Goodhue389069
Nobles387247
Polk345063
McLeod341250
Beltrami338951
Morrison327747
Becker314842
Itasca314646
Lyon313845
Isanti309456
Steele303611
Carlton300449
Freeborn286424
Pine283216
Nicollet262441
Todd249730
Brown248237
Le Sueur238120
Mille Lacs229447
Cass221224
Waseca210417
Meeker208134
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15404
Renville152640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13969
Pennington138716
Chippewa136935
Cottonwood136020
Wadena131420
Faribault124917
Aitkin119133
Sibley118310
Watonwan11828
Rock116314
Kanabec108820
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9548
Jackson94610
Swift87818
Pope8165
Marshall78615
Stevens7478
Lake74218
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68716
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4798
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41021
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
Sioux480369
Marshall465273
Des Moines428461
Muscatine426393
Buena Vista413237
Wapello4059110
Jasper387767
Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
Bremer270555
Carroll266948
Crawford253635
Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
Dickinson204240
Tama203065
Kossuth198655
Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
Fayette179335
Page178119
Buchanan177829
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172723
Hardin170239
Harrison167670
Clayton160254
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145741
Allamakee144848
Madison143218
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132430
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115340
Humboldt113725
Franklin109719
Guthrie109628
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
Montgomery96936
Clarke95120
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida81832
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72221
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4759
Wayne47221
Adams3194
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Mason City
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 36°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 34°
Winds will pick up for Sunday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events