Trump directs E15 rulemaking process

Move would make the ethanol blend available year-round, drawing praise from ag groups.

Currently, E15 cannot be sold during the summer months in most of the country. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin a rulemaking process to allow the year-round sale of E15.

Farm and ethanol groups across the country applauded the announcement. Supporters said eliminating the summertime ban will save consumers money, reduce emissions, enhance competition and provide a boost to the ag economy.

Getting approval of year-round sale of E15 has been a priority for many agriculture and ethanol groups, including Illinois Farm Bureau.

“For more than a decade, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has created jobs, boosted the rural Illinois economy and helped clean the air,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “But Illinois farmers have been frustrated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent actions, which have not only undermined the RFS but also softened market demand for both ethanol and corn. 

“Allowing summer sales of E15 gives consumers greater choice at the pump, reverses economic damage caused by EPA’s waivers and signals a strong message of support to our nation’s farmers,” Guebert said.

In 2011, EPA approved the use of E15 in all light-duty vehicles built in 2001 or later, meaning more than 90 percent of cars and trucks on the road today are legally approved to use the fuel. E15 cannot be sold during the summer months in most of the country.

According to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA), E15 is available at more than 1,300 retail stations in 29 states, and it is expected that elimination of the summertime ban will result in rapid expansion of the availability of E15 nationwide.

“We thank President Trump for formally initiating the process to eliminate this antiquated, red tape laden regulation, and look forward to the full resolution of this issue before next summer’s driving season,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “This is the right signal to the marketplace at just the right time, as both farmers and renewable fuel producers desperately need new market opportunities and sources of demand.”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, applauded Trump’s action.

“Not only will the expansion of E15 sales benefit our farmers in central and west-central Illinois, but this will provide fuel retailers and consumers with more cost-efficient choices that reduce gas emissions into our environment,” LaHood said. “I applaud President Trump for his commitment to the American farmer and recognizing the importance of ethanol sales for our farmers in the Midwest and appreciate his efforts to allow for year-round sales.”

U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, wrote to Trump recently urging him to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15. Doing so, they wrote, would represent a “significant step towards strengthening America’s Heartland.”

“At a time when American agriculture is under attack and the livelihoods of many in the Heartland are threatened, we ask that you renew your commitment to support and expand markets for farmers and empower them to do the hard work that they love to do so much,” they wrote.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, serves as co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and has pushed for the change for years.

"This is a win for farmers who have suffered from decreasing farm income and this is a win for consumers who will now have more choices at the pump," Davis said. "I have been working with this administration to change this unnecessary restriction, and I thank President Trump for keeping his promise to farmers in rural America by allowing for year-round sale of E15.”

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