Trump's EPA prepares to cave to King Corn yet again

It’s starting to look as if we’ll have to wait for Trump’s second term before he takes any action against the pervasive influence of the ethanol lobby, assuming he ever gets there at all. For the time being, however, King Corn still has his feet firmly under the table in the Oval Office. This week we learned that the EPA is about to release a new proposed rule that would expand the sale of E-15 ethanol blended gas to the entire calendar year. (Currently, it’s not allowed during the summer.) Prepare to wait in line even longer and pay more for ethanol-free gas, folks. (Reuters)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it had sent a draft of its proposed rule allowing year-round sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline to the White House Office of Budget for final review.

The rule expanding sales of so-called E15 was promised by President Donald Trump late last year as a way to help corn farmers, but also includes measures sought by the oil industry to curb biofuel credit market speculation.

“We hope to expeditiously propose and finalize the rule consistent with the President’s direction,” EPA spokesman Mike Abboud said in an email to Reuters. Following the interagency process, the rule will be put out for public comment before being finalized.

This was always nothing more than a concession to Iowa (and other portions of the midwest) to prop up support there. It’s bad enough that we have these levels of ethanol being jammed into the gasoline supply via government mandate and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s even worse when the White House continues to ignore very basic science on why this is such a bad idea.

Running ethanol through your vehicles fuel system is a poor idea at any time. The fuel burns hotter while producing less energy by volume than gasoline. It also eats into the fuel lines and other components of older vehicles and small engines or marine motors. But during the summer, the exhaust from burning ethanol blends during hot weather has been shown to significantly contribute to smog problems in densely populated areas.

It’s nice that the EPA is including a nod to the oil industry with measures designed to “curb” biofuel market speculation. But we need more details on how much of a curb it will be. The RIN market (Renewable Identification Number) is a scam created by Washington out of whole cloth. These RINs are no different than the taxi medallion system created in many big cities to prop up (and profit from) control of the cab companies. Oil refineries that can’t process ethanol are being forced to buy RINs to compensate and that makes the artificial RIN certificates suddenly have real-world value. So they are traded and manipulated. They should be eliminated, along with the entire RFS.

The Trump administration’s handling of the entire ethanol question continues to be a running disappointment throughout this administration. Sadly, Iowa retains too much power in our political circus and the President continues to listen to the ringmaster.