Trump Seeks to Lift Ban of E15 Gasoline Sales Despite Pollution Concerns

Trump shared his future plans with corn farmers in Iowa, the leading state in ethanol production.

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United States President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he would seek the lifting of an existing federal regulation that limits the sale of E15-blend gasoline during summer months. The sale of E-15 is currently limited from June through September due to concerns that it contributes to increased pollution during high-temperature months.

The announcement was made during a campaigning venture in Iowa, a farming-heavy state where corn is a major cash crop for the economy, backed by subsidies. Currently, Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, using 39 percent of its corn crops for the fuel additive. The decision to enable year-round sales of E15 would help to tie the relations between the oil and corn industries even closer by boosting demand for ethanol, and potentially the amount of corn produced by farmers.

Currently, gasoline sold in the U.S. is produced pure or with one of three ethanol blends; 10-percent (E10), 15-percent (E15), and 85-percent (E85). Most vehicles on the road consume E10 and vehicles manufactured after 2001 can safely consume E15, however, the sale of E15 is not permitted during the summer months, specifically June 1 until Sept. 16, due to concerns that it contributes to increased pollution during hotter days. According to CNBC, industry representatives disagree with this notion and say that the claim is unfounded.

U.S. consumers purchase around 400 million gallons of E15 annually; less than one percent of the overall consumption which totals 142 billion gallons.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states for every 10 percent of ethanol blended into gasoline, a car's fuel economy will decrease around 3 percent, meaning that a car's overall fuel economy consuming E15 would theoretically decrease around 4.5-percent when compared to straight gasoline. One gallon of ethanol contains roughly two-thirds of the energy content compared to a gallon of gasoline.

The administration also hopes that the lifting of the ban will lower gas prices. Currently, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel is $2.91; a $0.43 premium over this time last year. Because ethanol is cheaper than gasoline, cutting the fuel with the corn-derived substance is seen as a move which would potentially reduce or stabilize gas pricing nationwide.

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