Oil industry ups campaign to get Trump to ‘step back’ from ethanol plan

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018

The American Petroleum Institute re-upped its lobbying push on Friday to get the president to scrap his plan to pump more ethanol into the gasoline supply.

“With the Trump administration poised to make a decision that would push more E15 fuel into the nation’s gasoline supply, we urge the administration to step back from this ill-advised course,” said Frank Macchiarola, the oil industry group’s downstream group director.

What is E15? E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol. President Trump promised the farming community he would relax restrictions to that level, allowing ethanol to be blended year round. Its high fuel volatility rating limits its sales to the fall, winter and spring. But the summer season, when consumers drive the most, has been off limits because of federal regulations. Farmers and the ethanol lobby want a waiver to sell it year round.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to released the E15 plan as soon as next week. But Macchiarola says this is not the right course, and only Congress can address significant changes to the nation’s renewable fuel program.

The consumer harm argument: The E15 plan “is a flawed anti-consumer policy,” he said Friday on a call with reporters. “Oil and gas, and the auto industry’s studies have shown that E15 can damage vehicle engines and fuel systems, potentially leaving consumers on the hook fo expensive repair bills.”

Three out of four vehicles currently on the road were not designed to handle the fuel, he says.

Other ways Trump could drive up costs: API says the plan is also expected to place specific limits on the market for ethanol credits that refiners use to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard — the EPA’s ethanol mandate. This could also harm fuel producers at a time when they are trying to keep the cost of the credits low, according to Macchiarola.

The only way the oil industry would agree with Trump’s E15 plan is if the president included sunsetting the ethanol program in 2022, instead of giving EPA greater discretion to move ahead with the program as the Clean Air Act infers it will.

API joined with refiners in sending a letter to the president this week advising him not to move forward with the ethanol plan.

The oil group will continue to push Trump not to move forward by continuing its national ad campaign advising consumers of the harm E15 would cause. The ad has been running since August.