man pumping gas at ethanol pump
MORE E15 NEEDED: With ethanol prices at a 13-year low and net farm income plummeting, farm and biofuel groups are pushing for year-round sales of E15.

Why is EPA stalling on year-round E15?

Farm and biofuel groups continue urging Trump to make good on his promise.

Earlier this week, Tim Gannon, a candidate for Iowa ag secretary, issued a statement critical of the Trump administration’s continued promises and failure to deliver results, as the sale of E15 ethanol is still not allowed year-round.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t permit the sale of ethanol during summer. Gannon, a Democrat running for ag secretary, farms near Mingo in central Iowa.

The Trump administration has said it will approve year-round use of the 15% ethanol blend, but the promise has failed to materialize. For now, E15 is banned in summer by EPA based on concerns E15 contributes to smog, a claim ethanol industry advocates say is unfounded. Almost all gasoline sold in the U.S. today contains 10% ethanol, the E10 blend. Boosting ethanol use by allowing E15 to be sold 12 months a year would help improve corn prices.

Announcement at Farm Progress Show
“The Trump administration makes one promise after another when it comes to E15 with no results to show,” Gannon says. “Starting in 2016, President Trump promised Iowans time and time again he would expand markets for ethanol. What’s worse is that our state’s Republican leaders have been unable to get results for Iowa’s farmers. Gov. Reynolds raised this and other issues 11 months ago, and all we’ve gotten since then is more empty rhetoric. The president was in Iowa in July and promised ‘I’m getting very close to doing that,’ — having already made similar assurances earlier in the year.”

Gannon notes that “Just a few weeks ago, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue looked our farmers in the eyes at the Farm Progress Show at Boone and said: ‘We’ll have an announcement sooner rather than later.’”

Meanwhile, Iowa farmers are going bankrupt while petroleum profits are soaring, Gannon says. “Our state’s Republican leaders talk a lot about E15, but they refuse to hold the Trump administration accountable on its promises. EPA’s undermining of the Renewable Fuel Standard now threatens the entire rural economy, and it should not be tolerated.”

Gannon adds, “The Trump administration appears to be playing politics with an issue that’s very important to farmers’ bottom lines. Corn and soybean prices are low due in part to the destroyed demand for ethanol and biodiesel caused by waivers EPA has granted to oil refiners already enjoying record profits.”

Some people think the Trump administration will make an announcement on E15 this fall before the election. “But the administration continues to seek more handouts for oil companies as part of the deal while steadfastly refusing to curtail illegal waivers and reallocate the billions of gallons of demand for biofuels that have been lost over the last two years,” Gannon says. “I have to wonder whether the White House is more worried about Big Oil than Iowa farmers.”

E15 again available for fall
Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, is the Republican running against Gannon in the upcoming November election. Naig also released a statement earlier this week about E15, noting the 15% ethanol blend is again available for sale — as of Sept. 15 — as specified by federal law, the Renewable Fuel Standard.

 “All 2001 and newer vehicles can again legally use E15 this fall,” Naig says. “This change will help consumers save money and give them additional choices at the gas pump. E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, has been approved to be safely used in all vehicles 2001 and newer. Unfortunately, a regulatory barrier from EPA has unnecessarily restricted the sale of E15 between June 1 and Sept. 15 to flex-fuel vehicles.”

 “As we move into fall, I encourage Iowans to give lower-cost, clean-burning E15 a try,” he says. “We continue to see significant growth in E15 availability. There are more than 160 sites offering E15 at stations across the state. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has a map where the stations are located on their website at iowarfa.org.”

Iowa can fill up with E15
Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program offers cost-share grants to support fuel stations interested in expanding the public’s access to ethanol and biodiesel. Since 2007, the RFIP has provided nearly $40 million to fuel retailers across the state to expand access to renewable fuels, including 332 ethanol and 431 biodiesel projects during that time.

“This continued growth in use of renewable fuels has a multitude of benefits for our state,” Naig says. “Ethanol and biodiesel are cleaner burning and help protect our state’s air and water. The 43 ethanol plants and 12 biodiesel facilities in our state provide great jobs in our local communities and contribute millions of dollars to our economy. As consumers, let’s take advantage of the greater availability of this Iowa-produced, clean-burning, renewable fuel this fall.”

 

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