In a phone call Saturday with Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, President Donald Trump announced he had signed an order allowing the ethanol industry to use 15% ethanol blends in 10% blend pumps. Trump said the decision would save the ethanol industry hundreds of millions of dollars in savings on pump conversions.
Ernst, a Republican senator in a close race with Democrat Theresa Greenfield, was ecstatically shown on a social media post on a speaker call with Trump when he announced the ethanol decision. Trump also tweeted the announcement as well, noting that decisions on allowing such changes in blender pumps would also have to be approved by individual states. Trump's tweet included links to twitter handles for Iowa and South Dakota officials, as well as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
"Subject only to State approval, our important Ethanol Industry will be allowed to use the 10% Pumps for the 15% BLEND. Thank you! @SenJoniErnst @ChuckGrassley @SenatorFischer @SenJohnThune @SenatorRounds @KimReynoldsIA @EPAAWheeler @SecretarySonny @govkristinoem"
Trump did not make any mention of any EPA decision on the 67 pending small-refinery exemption requests awaiting a ruling from EPA. Reuters reported on Sept. 9 that Trump had ordered EPA to reject the small-refinery exemptions, but no announcement has been made yet.
Trump, in his own presidential race, has maintained strong support in rural America. Polling in Iowa since late July have shown the president with a slight overall lead in Iowa over Democrat Joe Biden ranging from 1% to 2%, which reflects a much tighter race than 2016 when Trump won the state by more than 9%, carried heavily by rural counties.
The president in late spring 2019 signed an order allowing E15 year-round, stopping the annual summer limits on 15% ethanol blends that had hindered growth in biofuels. E15, though, has been approved by EPA only for automobiles built in 2001 models or newer. That has required states and fueling stations to install specific pumps for E15, to keep from using the wrong blend of fuel in older vehicles or other machinery. It is not clear how states would be allowed to change the rules for 15% ethanol if EPA maintains that restriction on E15 and older vehicles.
In his call, Trump said polling numbers for both himself and Ernst look good. Trump also said he is working to win Minnesota, where polls show him trailing Biden.
"We just got some good poll numbers in your state. We're also plugging hard for Minnesota. You have probably seen they have had some little problems I've put out. I put out a lot of fires in Minnesota," Trump said on the call, leading to laughter by Ernst and her staff. Trump added, "But we're doing very well there. But I just want to thank you. It's been an incredible state for me, right from the beginning. Joni is fantastic. Chuck Grassley is fantastic, and Kim (Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds) and is tremendous. And I just -- I think we will tell them first, OK? Should I do that? What I'm doing right now?"
Ernst responded, "Absolutely Mr. President. Go ahead."
Trump said, "I'm just putting out an order that our important ethanol industry will be allowed to use the 10% pumps for the 15% blend. That saves tremendous amounts of money for people in the ethanol industry, like hundreds of millions dollars I hear, for the conversion. And there's no reason to do it, so we took care of it."
Trump added, "But I just want to thank everybody there. I hear on the ground, it's fantastic." Trump then mentioned that he just got a poll indicating Ernst is ahead of Greenfield in her Senate race.
Ernst's campaign shortly later issued a news release citing that "Ernst delivers big win for the ethanol industry."
Election forecasts from the website Fivethirtyeight.com https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/…
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