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In boon for farmers, Trump lifting restrictions on ethanol

AP  |  Washington 

The is moving to allow year-round sales of with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.

is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-blends during a trip to on Tuesday.

The long-expected announcement is something of a reward to Senator Chuck Grassley, who as led a contentious but successful fight to confirm to the

The veteran is the Senate's leading proponent and sharply criticised the Trump administration's proposed rollback in volumes earlier this year.

At that time Grassley threatened to call for the resignation of the Environmental Protection Agency's chief, Scott Pruitt, if Pruitt did not work to fulfill the federal ethanol mandate. Pruitt later stepped down amid a host of ethics investigations.

A said Monday that the EPA will publish a rule in coming days to allow high-ethanol blends as part of a package of proposed changes to the ethanol mandate.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump's announcement.

The change would allow year-round sales of blends with up to 15 per cent ethanol. typically contains 10 per cent ethanol.

The EPA currently bans the high-ethanol blend, called E15, during the summer because of concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days, a claim ethanol industry advocates say is unfounded.

In May, Republican senators, including Grassley, announced a tentative agreement with the to allow year-round sales, but the EPA did not propose a formal rule change.

The said the proposed rule intends to allow sales next summer. Current regulations prevent retailers in much of the country from offering from June 1 to September 15.

Lifting the summer ban is expected to be coupled with new restrictions on trading biofuel credits that underpin the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, commonly known as the ethanol mandate.

The law sets out how much corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels refiners must blend into gasoline each year.

The Renewable Fuel Standard was intended to address global warming, reduce dependence on and bolster the rural economy by requiring a steady increase in renewable fuels over time.

The mandate has not worked as intended, and production levels of renewable fuels, mostly ethanol, routinely fail to reach minimum thresholds set in law.

The opposes year-round sales of E15, warning that high-ethanol gasoline can damage and

Some have warned against high-ethanol blends, although EPA has approved use of E15 in all light-duty vehicles built since 2001.

A group of lawmakers, many from oil-producing states, sent Trump a letter last week opposing expanded sales of

The lawmakers called the approach "misguided" and said it would do nothing to protect refinery jobs and "could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher-ethanol blended gasoline."

The letter was signed by 16 Republicans and four Democrats, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a key Trump ally.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, whose state includes several refineries, also signed the letter.

A for the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group, said allowing E15 to be sold year-round would give consumers greater access to clean, low-cost, higher-octane fuel while expanding market access for ethanol producers.

"The ability to sell E15 all year would also bring a significant boost to farmers across our country" and provide a significant economic boost to rural America, said

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 09 2018. 15:50 IST