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Good news for ethanol industry

Year-round sale of E15 is on track for approval

A promise to Iowa’s ethanol producers made by President Donald Trump is about to be kept.

For some years, the Environmental Protection Agency has banned the sale of gasoline with a blend of 15 percent ethanol — E15 — during the summer. This regulatory rule was based on the claim that this more-ethanol intensive product than the 10 percent blend sold all year long might result in greater smog during hot weather. This prohibition has been in place for three decades.

Trump promised to end that seasonal restriction. On March 12, the EPA issued a proposed regulatory change that is expected to become final policy not long after a 30-day comment period. That means that if all goes as hoped E15 could be marketed in the U.S. this summer.

Top Iowa officials including the governor and both United States senators have found it hard to bring about this change. They responded to the latest development enthusiastically.

“This proposed rule is a huge victory for Iowa farmers and the ag economy as it keeps the process moving forward to expand the use of E15 to year-round,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “I commend EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and President Trump for following through on their promise to get a year-round E15 proposal done by this summer.”

Iowa is the nation’s No. 1 ethanol producer. That makes this move especially important to the Hawkeye State’s economy. According to information released this month by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the renewable fuels industries contribute more than $4.6 billion each year to Iowa’s economy. These industries support about 43,000 jobs.

“I’m thrilled to see the proposed rule for the year-round sale of E15 move forward,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said. “As the nation’s leader in ethanol production, Iowa farmers and producers are depending on this rule being in place by the summer driving season.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley concurred and amplified Ernst’s point.

“Ending the nonsensical ban on summertime sales of higher blends of ethanol is a no-brainer and a big victory for Iowa, Midwest farmers and the country as whole,” the Iowa Republican said.

The Messenger heartily agrees. We have been a strong backer of this regulatory change. We are delighted to see this promise by the president on the verge of fulfillment. We thank the governor and Sens. Grassley and Ernst for their tenacious work to help bring about this important regulatory change.