Trump to Roll out ethanol plan in Iowa amid oil industry pushback, a simultaneous rebranding

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018

Trump will use a trip to the big corn state to announce his plan to allow year-round use of 15-percent ethanol fuel.

The plan and the visit will be timed to help Farm Belt Republicans in tight congressional election races, sources told Reuters, who first reported Trump’s intention to announce the plan next week.

The plan, which Trump reportedly plans to unveil on Oct. 9 in Council Bluffs, is for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a special waiver that allows the fuel to be sold through the summer driving season. It is currently restricted from being used in the summer months because of its higher Reid vapor pressure, or fuel volatility.

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst said she is “optimistic” the president will act next week after months of hinting at taking action.

“It would not be good for the president to hint and hint about lifting the ban and do nothing,” she told Reuters. “I think there would be peril if he came and did not deliver on the promise.”

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the E15 waiver. King tweeted out a photo of himself outside the White House with his notes from the meeting written on his hand, which showed E15 fuel blends were discussed.

A simultaneous rebranding: Ahead of the announcement, the ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy launched a website on Tuesday to rebrand E15 fuel, calling it “Unleaded 88.”

The website appears to be countering a month-long national ad campaign by the oil industry to persuade Trump not to move forward with the E15 plan. The oil industry says the fuel will ruin vehicle engines and make refiners liable.

The Growth Energy website says Unleaded 88, its new name for E15, is a fuel approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for cars model year 2001 and newer, which it says represent about 9 out of 10 cars on the road today.

“The website showcases the value Unleaded 88 provides — whether consumers are looking for a fuel that’s good for their engines, their wallets, or the environment — in a simple and straightforward way,” said Growth Energy.

The name change was based on a request from convenience store retailers for a “unified brand identity for E15,” the group explains. “Unleaded 88 has made its debut across the country and will be the consistent labeling at more than 80 percent of today’s E15 stations,” it said.