WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for Iowa and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.
President Donald Trump is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-ethanol blends during a trip to Iowa on Tuesday.
“It’s an amazing substance. You look at the Indy cars. They run 100 percent on ethanol,” Trump said at the White House before leaving for Iowa.
He said he wants more energy production and to help farmers and refiners.
“I want more because I don’t like $74,” Trump said referring to the current price of a barrel of crude oil. “If I have to do more — whether it’s through ethanol or another means — that’s what I want. I want low prices.”
The long-expected announcement is something of a reward to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman led a contentious but successful fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The veteran Republican lawmaker is the Senate’s leading ethanol proponent and sharply criticized the Trump administration’s proposed rollback in ethanol volumes earlier this year.
Grassley called the proposal “a very good victory for agriculture,” ethanol workers and the environment. “Everything about this is good, good, good,” Grassley said Tuesday after he and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, met with Trump at the White House.
A senior administration official said Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency will publish a rule to allow high-ethanol blends as part of a package of proposed changes to the ethanol mandate. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s announcement.
The change would allow year-round sales of gasoline blends with up to 15 percent ethanol. Gasoline typically contains 10 percent ethanol.
The EPA currently bans the high-ethanol blend, called E15, during the summer because of concerns it contributes to smog on hot days, a claim ethanol industry advocates said is unfounded.