October 26, 2018
By Emily Skor, Guest Columnist
President Trump recently announced some great news for farmers, biofuel workers, retailers, and consumers everywhere who want to enjoy cleaner, more affordable options at the fuel pump. At the president’s direction, the Environmental Protection Agency will finally lift a decades-old limit on the sale of E15 ethanol blends.
Until now, many retailers have been barred from offering E15 to their customers during the summer months. Others fuel station operators elected not to offer E15 at all, citing the cost of relabeling and retooling their pumps each summer under EPA regulations.
President Trump is now cutting that red tape and unleashing pent up demand for homegrown biofuels. Nationwide sales of E15 could add seven billion gallons of ethanol to the fuel mix, providing a valuable market for two billion bushels of corn.
Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production, but states like Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, and South Dakota all produce more than a billion gallons each year. Across the heartland, renewable fuels are driving job growth and supporting a stronger farm economy. More than 200 ethanol plants across the heartland support nearly 360,000 U.S. jobs.
For Iowa’s farmers, the news couldn’t come at a better time. Farm income is down 47 percent over the past five years, and foreign nations are targeting our agricultural exports. Stronger markets at home could provide the breathing room we need to weather the storm.
And with petroleum prices climbing back toward painful levels, higher ethanol blends are one of the best tools available to protect U.S. drivers. As the president has noted, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, continues to “push for higher and higher oil prices,” but American-made ethanol provides a shield against manipulation. In fact, E15 helps motorists save up to 10 cents on every gallon, along with more octane and fewer emissions.
Today, E15 is available at more than 1,600 stations in 30 states, and that footprint will only grow thanks to President Trump’s efforts to tear down the single greatest barrier against higher biofuel blends.
Of course, there is still much work to do. The EPA must enact the fix in time for the next summer driving season, which requires a months-long rulemaking process. Thankfully, the president is not alone among policymakers who are dedicated to revitalizing communities hit hardest by the farm crisis.
Tireless leaders like Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Reps. David Young, Rod Blum, Steve King and Dave Loebsack, as well as Gov. Reynolds, have all fought and won countless battles to open the market for U.S. biofuels. We can’t thank them enough for their support, and we look forward to working with them in the months ahead to see the president’s E15 plan over the finish line.
With their help, we can make sure that American motorists have higher-octane options at a lower cost all year long – using the renewable energy produced from farms in Iowa and across the heartland.
Emily Skor is the CEO of Growth Energy, a trade association representing supporters and producers of ethanol.