Trump to lift seasonal ban on higher ethanol content in gasoline

October 9, 2018

President Donald Trump is expected Tuesday to lift a longstanding summer ban on gasoline that contains higher amounts of corn-based ethanol. 

The move would legalize E15 gasoline year-round, according to multiple reports. A senior White House official told Reuters that Trump will make the announcement at a stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The report says that the EPA will publish a rule later this week allowing higher amounts of ethanol in fuel. The EPA currently bans E15 during the summer because ethanol has been linked to increased smog in warmer weather in multiple environmental studies. Additionally, E15 is more prone than E10 to vaporize in gasoline lines, an issue known as "vapor lock" that can cause car engines to stumble. As a result, some automakers recommend against using E15 fuel in their cars.

Most gas stations sell E10 fuel, which has about 10 percent plant-based ethanol content in it. As its name implies, E15 ups that to as much as 15 percent corn-based ethanol. E15 is currently banned from June 1 to Sept. 15 in much of the U.S. 

The oil industry also opposes higher ethanol content in gasoline. A group of senators from states such as Texas and New Jersey with major oil-production facilities sent  Trump a letter last week voicing their concern about the measure. 

The announcement is deeply political. Iowa and other Midwestern states where corn is a major crop are key to mid-term elections in the U.S. in November. Additionally, the move is seen as something of a reward to Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who helped usher Brett Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court. 

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