Trump promises to allow year-round E15 sales

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, April 13, 2018

Ethanol industry groups praised President Trump today after he told reporters the administration will allow year-round sales of higher-ethanol fuel.

Expanding availability of E15 is a top priority for the ethanol industry, and it’s been discussed as part of a broader deal that could also give refiners relief from certain biofuel blending requirements. Ethanol groups called it welcome news for farmers and consumers.

“We’re working on the ethanol,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that the administration will raise ethanol levels to 15 percent and make it available all year, rather than eight months, “which makes a lot of farmers very happy.”

Most gasoline sold now is 10 percent ethanol.

Trump didn’t say anything to reporters about refiners, but the administration has said it’s looking for ways to limit the cost of the renewable fuel credits they buy to meet the renewable fuel standard, such as through price controls and waivers. Ethanol advocates oppose such measures, but they remain part of the conversation among administration officials and lawmakers.

“It’s really working out,” Trump said. “People have been talking about this for years.”

The Renewable Fuels Association said the president’s comments suggest he’ll support keeping biofuel volumes at the 15-billion-gallon level mandated by the RFS. That could mean pushing back against EPA’s granting of RFS waivers, which industry groups say have effectively trimmed the level to about 13 billion gallons.

The issue has marked a division between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who on Tuesday told a Senate subcommittee that the waivers hurt demand for ethanol (E&E Daily, April 12).

“EPA Administrator Pruitt must cease his campaign to destruct biofuel demand with unjustified waivers and other policies meant to undermine the RFS,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Trump didn’t say how the administration would implement the idea, but industry groups have said EPA can do so through formal rulemaking. The seasonal restriction prohibits sales of E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15.