For years, larger and larger sales of corn ethanol were almost a given. For one thing, the Renewable Fuel Standard guaranteed biofuels a share of the gasoline market, and car-happy Americans used more gasoline every year. The joyride, however, may be ending, says a University of Illinois economist.
The EPA intends to approve the year-round sale of E15 in time for the summer driving season, said administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday. In proposing an end to the ban on summertime sales, the EPA set a 45-day comment period on its proposal.
The EPA says it will approve sale of E15 — which contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline — before the start of the summer driving season, as promised by President Trump. To make sure the agency meets its goal, Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday the EPA should propose a stripped-down regulation devoted solely to the corn-based biofuel.
The partial government shutdown is putting a kink in the Trump tariff payments to farmers and it could prevent the EPA from approving the sale of E15 by the summer, as promised by President Trump. But farm groups have made few public complaints about the shutdown, now in its third week.
Ten days ahead of the midterm elections, President Trump will tout his agricultural record to a pared-down crowd of 7,000 teenagers at the FFA national convention in Indianapolis and campaign in southern Illinois for an imperiled Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee.
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to begin work in February to allow year-round sale of E15 and complete the regulation in May, just ahead of the usual June 1 cutoff of summer sales. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, from the top corn and ethanol state, said on Tuesday that the agency "ought to speed it up" to be sure the fuel will be available for the summer driving season.
On his way to a campaign rally in Iowa, President Trump started the regulatory process on Tuesday for year-round sales of a 15 percent blend of corn ethanol in gasoline, sought in the Farm Belt as a tonic for trade war jitters. E15 sales are banned during the summer now, and the EPA will have to move expeditiously, given the federal rule-writing process, to implement Trump's order by next June 1, the usual cut-off date.
On Monday, President Trump, before announcing the new North American trade pact, said, “We’ll be doing something very important in Iowa.” The remark was interpreted to mean action on the year-round sale of E15.
In the No. 1 corn and ethanol state, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told a friendly farm audience on Wednesday that the Trump administration is looking to balance the needs of ethanol makers and oil refiners so that it can allow year-round sales of E15.