Iowa Trump rally highlights ethanol expansions

Hours after announcing year-round E15 gasoline, Trump visited Council Bluffs, Iowa to rally heartland voters.



President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. (Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA/TNS)

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

President Trump urged voters to vote Republican during a visit to Council Bluffs, Iowa, hours after announcing an expansion of ethanol sales into the summer months.

In a change from previous policy, Trump declared Tuesday afternoon that he has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow E15 gasoline availability all year.

“Today I kept another major promise to the people of Iowa and Nebraska and other countries,” Trump said during the rally. “My administration is protecting ethanol. Today we are unleashing the power of E15 to fuel our country all year long, not eight months.”

E15 fuel contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. Gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, or E10, is currently the highest level of ethanol being sold all months of the year.

E15 fuel currently disappears from the market during summer months due to concerns that it contributes to smog. Regulations on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), a common measure of gasoline volatility, have found E15 fuel to exceed the legal volatility limit during summertime.

Iowa is the United States’ largest producer of ethanol and Trump’s announcement was viewed as an economic win for Iowa by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

She thanked Trump for his decision during the Council Bluffs rally and in a statement Monday.

“Mr. President, thank you for year-round E15. Our farmers thank you and Iowans thank you,” Reynolds said. “We are grateful for promises made and promises kept.”

Reynolds added ethanol provided a price advantage for consumers in her Monday statement.

During his Council Bluffs rally, Trump lauded praise on Reynolds and Congressional Republican candidates on the ballot this year. In between condemnations of Democrats, Trump described Reynolds as fighting “every day for the people of Iowa” and Congressman Steve King as a “true conservative.”

Trump’s E15 announcement has come at a time when the Iowa agricultural industry’s economy is feeling the impact of trade disputes with China. The announced expansion of ethanol use is speculated to boost the corn industry, advocates say.

“With the farm economy the way it is, anytime we use more corn to make ethanol it’s good for the farmers,” President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association Curt Mether said.

Mether said the expansion of E15 sales will be a big step for corn growers and the ethanol industry.

Iowa Corn Growers Association Director of Marketing and Communications Shannon Textor described the benefits of ethanol as being cleaner to burn, locally grown, cost effective for consumers, and providing more market access for farmers.

Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, called Trump’s Council Bluffs visit a campaign stop to rally voters around Iowa Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections.

“Trump’s campaigning to try to help Kim Reynolds because Kim Reynolds has a terrible record supporting the special interests of the people of Iowa,” Bolkcom said.

The Iowa Democratic Party was quick to criticize Trump’s appearance.

“For years, the Republican Party has run on rhetoric and policy inconsistent with American values,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price and Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb said in a statement Oct. 9. “Our farmers and rural communities have been left in the dust by the Trump Administration, Governors Reynolds and Ricketts, and their Republican allies.”