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Selling Ethanol-15 Year-Round Is Still Not A ‘Done Deal’

corn ethanol refineryCCD Editor’s Note: As noted before, the ethanol industry is one big pork pie. That view may not be popular in all places, but for those that have studied the issue, there are simply no benefits to adding corn-based alcohol to your gasoline. Oil companies hate it because it cuts into their sales, enviros hate it because it destroys the environment, and motorists hate it because it ruins small engines and raises prices. So why are we rushing headlong into E15 blends all year long? #

A week spent lobbying on Capitol Hill left a major ethanol coalition dismayed by lawmakers’ lack of understanding of the problems facing the industry.

One of the biggest shockers for the ethanol lobby was that lawmakers, primarily Republicans, thought that President Trump’s plan to allow for higher blends of ethanol to be sold year-round was a done deal.

“For a lot of lawmakers, they thought the E15 [15-percent ethanol blend] issue was sort of dealt with already,” Brian Jennings, the president and CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told John. He said that they heard a lot of: “It’s already taken care for you, right?”

The problem with that perception is that it isn’t taken care of — far from it — despite Trump making it a key part of his agenda in 2019.

In fact, the proposed rule at the Environmental Protection Agency to lift restrictions on E15 ethanol fuel blends has only just begun to work its way through the administrative process, with the oil industry already threatening to sue if it’s approved.

Jennings and his members were on the Hill last week with the intent of getting lawmakers up to speed with the significant problems they have with the pending EPA ethanol plan.

However, the feedback they received from members means they have to rethink their lobbying and education campaigns.

Jennings said he and his members had to spend time clarifying that “no, it’s not taken care of for us,” and then go into the details of the EPA rule, which would actually do the opposite of Trump’s intended result by restricting sales of E15.

There are four or five pieces to the E15 rule.

The only part of the proposal the ethanol industry favors is the piece that removes the Reid vapor pressure restrictions for using higher blends in the summer, instead of just the fall, winter, and part of the spring.

The U.S. consumes the most gasoline in summer, and allowing E15 to be sold in the summer would open up a huge market for the industry.

Jennings was also disappointed in lawmakers’ understanding of the EPA refinery exemption program, which is separate to the E15 rule, but even just as problematic and damaging to the industry, he explained.

Since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, EPA has granted waivers to dozens of oil refineries to free them from blending ethanol into the gasoline supply as required by the law and EPA’s renewable fuel program.

The ethanol industry argues that the exemptions constitute “demand destruction” for their product and are currently suing the EPA over its use of the exemptions.

The exemptions have faced pushback from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, but outside of them and a few others, most lawmakers on Capitol Hill aren’t as attuned to the problem, according to Jennings and his group.

Part of the problem is the complexity of the EPA renewable fuel program or Renewable Fuel Standard, and lawmakers having a hard time keeping track of the problems it and the ethanol industry faces, says Jennings.

Read rest at Washington Examiner

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