Successful Farming - - FIRST CUT -

Af­ter months of Wash­ing­ton in­fight­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump gave the go-ahead for year­round sales of E15, a po­ten­tial out­let for the huge stock­pile of U.S. corn. Ethanol ad­vo­cates ex­pect a reg­u­la­tory race against time to get new EPA rules in place ahead of the driv­ing sea­son next sum­mer, not count­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a law­suit by the oil in­dus­try or en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists to tie up progress.

“It’s a tight time line, cer­tainly, (but) it’s doable,” says Emily Skor, head of trade group Growth En­ergy. Corn Grow­ers Pres­i­dent Lynn Chrisp says higher bio­fuel blends like E15 will “im­prove eco­nomic con­di­tions across ru­ral Amer­ica. NCGA will be tak­ing an ac­tive role in the reg­u­la­tory process, urg­ing EPA to move for­ward with mak­ing the pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment a re­al­ity by next sum­mer.”

Trump’s or­der to EPA to re­write its rules on sum­mer­time sales of E15 – “It’s all go­ing to go very quickly,” he pre­dicted dur­ing an Oc­to­ber 9 trip to Iowa – re­solved one of three is­sues hang­ing over corn ethanol. Still to come is the EPA an­nounce­ment (due by the end of this month) of the RFS for 2019. In June, EPA pro­posed an ethanol man­date of 15 bil­lion gal­lons, same as this year. Be­sides the over­all man­date, farm groups hope for EPA to off­set the ef­fect of the hard­ship waivers that EPA gave to 19 re­finer­ies for 2016 com­pli­ance with the RFS and 29 waivers for 2017 com­pli­ance. “Even with an E15 waiver, fam­ily farm­ers are at a net loss in bio­fuel de­mand over the past two years,” says NFU Pres­i­dent Roger John­son, be­cause of the “de­mand de­struc­tion” of the waivers.

Se­na­tor Charles Grass­ley (R-IA) says he has a sym­pa­thetic ally in act­ing EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor An­drew Wheeler, when asked if EPA would slow down the waivers. “He’s go­ing to be more care­ful in grant­ing waivers,” Grass­ley said.

The oil in­dus­try and the Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion say air pol­lu­tion laws don’t al­low EPA to au­tho­rize E15 dur­ing the sum­mer be­cause the fuel evap­o­rates too eas­ily. The oil in­dus­try says it is “ag­gres­sively” ex­am­in­ing its le­gal op­tions.

While a mem­ber of the Iowa Corn

Pro­mo­tion Board says year-round E15 could even­tu­ally mean a 2-bil­lion-bushel in­crease in corn de­mand, econ­o­mist Scott Ir­win of the Univer­sity of Illi­nois does not ex­pect any in­crease in the near term. The largest U.S. re­tailer of E15 says many ser­vice sta­tion op­er­a­tors would wait un­til EPA com­pletes work on E15 be­fore in­stalling pumps to han­dle the fuel, so they would miss the first sea­son of sales.

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