Trump uses ethanol against Biden in Iowa

Source: By John Siciliano, Washington Examiner • Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2019

President Trump accused Joe Biden Tuesday in Iowa of restricting the sale of corn ethanol during his time as vice president, saying that he harmed farmers and made the nation less energy secure.

“Americans may never again be held hostage to foreign suppliers of energy as we were under the Obama-Biden — ‘Sleepy Joe’ — group,” Trump said.

Trump spoke in Iowa after Biden gave an address earlier in the day. Trump was there to tout the Environmental Protection Agency’s May 31 action to remove restrictions on the sale of 15% ethanol blends put in place under the previous president, allowing the fuel to be blended all year.

The ethanol industry has been clamoring for the restrictions to be lifted for years.

Biden has been struggling to overcome the Obama administration’s shaky relationship with ethanol in trying to gain favor in Iowa. Although the administration did support a market for ethanol in its first term, it later gave into the oil lobby in cutting the amount of ethanol refiners are required by law to blend each year.

Although Trump used inaccurate hyperbole in saying that the Obama administration made the U.S. hostage to foreign suppliers — energy imports actually dipped during the Obama administration — his rhetoric appealed to ethanol industry lobbyists.

Monte Shaw, president and CEO of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said Trump is not exaggerating on the point about restrictions on 15% ethanol blends.

His group and many others had asked the Obama administration for six years to remove the restriction on 15% ethanol blends, Shaw told the Washington Examiner. “They said no,” Shaw said. “So Trump has [a] legit point on that.”

Shaw said the Obama administration did take steps to increase the market for ethanol, but things began to slip during the administration’s second term in 2014. More restrictions were placed on 15% ethanol fuel, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual blending targets for ethanol were cut over fears drummed up by the oil industry.

Biden had influenced the ethanol cuts as a way to protect refiners in his home state of Delaware, Reuters reported.

“Under the previous administration, our leaders rejected American energy and they rejected ethanol,” Trump said Tuesday while touting his EPA’s recent rule changes.

Trump called the Reid vapor pressure limits on 15% ethanol fuel “radical restrictions” that President Obama and Biden placed on U.S. farmers and ethanol producers.

The Obama administration “refused to even allow talk of E15 during the busiest driving months of the year,” he added.

The ethanol blend was previously banned from being sold during the summer months due to the fuel’s tendency to exacerbate smog pollution during the hot summer months.

“We took it from eight months to 12 beautiful months,” Trump added. “We took it all year long.”