The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would push ahead with its plans to promote the use of ethanol, a move that could support Republican support in the Midwest, but also by fierce opposition independent oil refineries and a group of bipartisan legislators.
The move to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft a rule E15's annual revenue, or fuel that makes up 15 percent ethanol per volume, is "designed to increase the supply of biofuels and offer consumers choice" A senior Trump official told reporters on a conference call.
President Trump It is expected that the government, which anticipated the move in April, will formally announce the directive at a rally for Republican candidates in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday. The caucus state of the first nation is the largest ethanol producer in the country; it is also one of the countries most affected by Trump's trade wars with China and other countries.
The EPA will press ahead with the formal rulemaking process, the official said, although the timing is still uncertain.
Currently, the sale of E15 is banned in the summer months due to air pollution problems. The Renewable Fuel Standard generally states that sales are limited to E10, which means a blend in which corn-based ethanol accounts for 10 percent of the fuel.
Among other things, the CEO of the ethanol processor POET was one of at least three companies that have hired Vice President Pence on this issue. During the 2016 campaign, Trump also sought to win the support of Iowa voters by supporting a higher ethanol mandate.
The American Petroleum Institute and others argue that higher ethanol levels can damage vehicle engines. Last week, a bipartisan group of 20 senators wrote a letter to Trump opposing such a move.
"We are concerned that this would not affect refineries' policies and harm millions of consumers with vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol gasoline and risk deteriorating air quality," they wrote.
Scott Segal, a lawyer with Bracewell LLP, who has represented refineries in Washington for more than two decades, said that while this had been the case for a long time sought by the ethanol industry, E15 "certainly costs refineries."
"The way the Renewable Fuels Program is currently being implemented – with its potential for high cost of tradable loans – is already putting some refineries at risk," Segal said. "If the government opens the regulatory framework for the Renewable Fuels Program, it will hopefully also be able to effectively and permanently address the problems created by these tradable loans, and the protection of industrial workers in refineries as well as consumers will depend on it." [Proponentsarguethatclaimsaboutpossibledamagetovehicleenginesareexaggeratedandthatincreaseduseofethanolwillboosttheeconomyinruralpartsofthecountry
Steven Mufson contributed to this report.