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Trump announces support for year-round E15 sales

Biofuel or Corn Syrup, gasoline, energy, environmentalist

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on April 12 announced his support for year-round sales of E15, an announcement cheered by farm groups, corn growers and the ethanol industry.

Sales of E15, which is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, have been prohibited from June 1 to Sept. 15 due to federal law and regulations regarding formation of surface ozone and smog.

Trump made his comments regarding E15 during a meeting at the White House with governors and lawmakers.

Kevin Skunes, an Arthur, N.D., farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association, said the move will provide for consumer savings, environmental advantages and a more stable corn market. NCGA wants to work alongside the Trump administration to make the change happen.

"NCGA has been advocating for this parity for higher blends of ethanol not only for these benefits but also because the additional ethanol blending addresses refiner concerns about (Renewable Identification Number) values," Skunes said in a statement. "Increased blending lowers RIN values."

Refiners have argued rising prices of such numbers has hurt them in trying to meet their burdens under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"E15 blending nationwide will increase ethanol blending which will increase the supply of RIN credits and help bring down their price," said American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings in a statement.

Jennings said his organization looks forward to "participating in the process to finally make E15 sales year-round a reality."

"Allowing the sale of E15 year-round is not only a commonsense step to provide regulatory relief to retailers, it is a win for their customers, who save about a nickel to a dime with each gallon of E15 at the pump," Jennings said in a statement.

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, a biofuels trade association, said allowing year-round sales of E15 is a "common-sense fix to create a level playing field for cleaner, more affordable fuel options during the summer driving season."

"This simple fix allows retailers to offer better options alongside traditional blends all year long," she said in a statement.

Roger Johnson, president of National Farmers Union, applauded the potential move while also suggesting the president could go farther.

"Family farmers are facing severely depressed prices due to massive oversupply of corn and other commodities. We appreciate the administration's move to remove this unnecessary regulation that decreases demand for farm products," Johnson said in a statement. "While this waiver will go a long way towards cutting into the corn supply, more can and should be done for higher blends of ethanol, like E30. This high-octane fuel offers better economic, fuel economy and air quality benefits than do lower blends of ethanol, yet far too many barriers continue to exist to keep it from being used."

Skunes also pointed out another ethanol-related area where the Environmental Protection Agency could do more.

"Even with the positive news from the White House today, NCGA continues to call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop granting small refinery exemptions, giving extremely profitable refiners a pass on meeting their RFS obligations and destroying demand. We remain opposed to further demand destruction through a RIN price cap or other policies that undermine the RFS," he said.