President Trump fulfills campaign promise on E15

Jun 14, 2019  | 3 min  | Ep4443

President Trump has made promises to help rural America. He has followed through with aid to counter markets lost to tariffs and opened doors to the increased use of ethanol.

Biofuels are a hot button topic when oil and renewables cross paths.

Late this week, a bi-partisan effort was introduced in the Senate to increase transparency in the small refinery exemption process.

Those waivers have been a cloud hanging over the ethanol industry.

David Miller reports. Producer contact:

President Trump took a victory lap through Council Bluffs, Iowa, this week, to formally announce a promise he kept on E15.

President Donald J. Trump: “A few days ago, we lifted - right?  We lifted the restrictions on E15  just in time to fuel America’s summer vacations.  We just made it. We just made it.

The ethanol industry has spent the last decade pushing for year-round use of the 15 percent ethanol blend in motor fuel. It remains to be seen what kind of growth will be experienced in light of drags on overall sales including limited access at the pump, continued attacks from petroleum groups and small refinery exemptions or SREs.

Ethanol refiners and industry advocacy groups, like the Renewable Fuels Association, are among those who dislike how some SREs are handed out.

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association: “We cannot afford to see this victory on E15 undermined by more exemption for small refiners from the RFS.  That's been a big problem for our industry the past few years. It has eroded demand. It has undermined the renewable fuel standard. If we put a stop to those exemptions in tandem with, uh, this E15 announcement today, we think things are pretty bright for the industry.”

Access to E15 remains a major hurdle for the industry expansion. In Iowa, the nation’s number one ethanol producing state, only 15 percent of the gas pumps can legally dispense E15 into all cars and light trucks built since the 2001 model year. According to FUELIowa  a fuel marketer and convenience retailer lobbying group, a retrofit for an existing station can cost up to $500,000.

The ethanol industry also suffers continued attacks about the efficiency and ecological benefits with the most recent coming from the Government Accounting Office. Emily Skor is the CEO of Growth Energy, a biofuels trade association.

Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy: “There's a wealth of data by national laboratories, USDA, Argon laboratories, EPA, others talking about the environmental benefits of ethanol. We know for a fact that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent. And we know that farmers and ethanol producers are doing more with less.”

President Donald J. Trump: "America’s farmers are not just the keepers of a cherished legacy.  You are the guardians of a way of life — a great, beautiful way of life."

    And the day before the President came to Iowa the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers brought a lawsuit against the EPA. The suit did not request an injunction but did call into question the federal government’s authority to grant a waiver for E15.

Mike Naig is Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture.

Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture: “...we know that there's still a lot of work to do to make sure that we're making, we've got the right policies and the right regulatory structures in place in, in, in Washington to make sure we can continue to support this really important industry. So we'll celebrate today and we'll be right back to work tomorrow, uh, making sure that we're advocating for this industry.

For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.

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