Trump celebrates E15 rule with visit to SIRE

By Erin Voegele | June 11, 2019

President Donald Trump visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, a 110 MMgy ethanol plant located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, June 11 to celebrate the final rule issued by the U.S. EPA May 31 to lift restrictions on year-round sales of E15.

During his speech, Trump said E15 sales are predicted to more than double this year. ““More American ethanol production also means less dependence on foreign suppliers,” he said. “By fulling embracing E15, we will reduce dependence on foreign oil by up to 250 million additional barrels every single year. I mean, quite simply, it means more energy…and its very good energy.”

“…The fuel you produce brings down prices at the pump for millions of American drivers,” Trump told those who attended the event. “Those savings go straight into the pockets of hard working families all across our land.”

Trump was joined on stage by Kevin Ross, a sixth generation farmer from Minden, Iowa, who serves as first vice president of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association; Kenny Wilcox, an employee of SIRE; and Randy Gard, chief operating officer of Bosselman Enterprises and a member of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

Ross spoke of the importance of family farms and agriculture in the U.S., calling agriculture “the greatest industry we have in this country” and stressing that the industry continues “to do more with less.” He thanked Trump and Iowa’s congressional delegation for its support of E15. He also stressed that there is more work to do, noting the EPA’s treatment of small refinery exemptions (SREs) “threaten to undo your good works.”

Wilcox, who has been employed by SIRE since 2012, discussed how the ethanol industry and employment at SIRE has benefited him and his family. “Ethanol plants are creating jobs and helping fuel the U.S. economy,” he said, noting that many of the jobs it provides are filled by veterans.

Gard called today a great day for the American farmer, the ethanol industry, fuel retailer and the American consumer. He discussed his company’s experience with selling E15, noting its stations began offering the fuel blend in 2016. Gard called E15 “simply a better fuel that costs less.” He said Bosselman’s sales of E15 increased by 300 percent in 2017, and an additional 225 percent in 2018. With the recent action to allow year-round ethanol sales, Gard said the company is expecting an additional 400 percent increase in sales this year.

Representatives of Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol were among those who attended the SIRE event.

“As we join President Trump in Iowa today, we thank him for directing EPA to allow year-round sales of E15,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “EPA’s decision is good news for the ethanol industry, farmers, and American consumers. Finally, retailers don’t have their hands tied when it comes to offering a lower cost, higher quality E15 fuel to their customers during the summer months. This won't be an overnight success, but a large obstacle is removed, so we’re looking forward to working with retailers, who have been standing on the sidelines not offering E15 because of the previous RVP regulatory limit and convincing them to get in the game. The timing of this ruling is incredibly important as U.S. farmers are under tremendous financial stress from collapsing net farm income, rising expenses, ongoing trade tensions, weather-related disasters, and the undermining of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with demand destroying small refinery waivers. This rule creates markets for ethanol producers and farmers alike with greater access for corn grind and ethanol use.

 “Unfortunately, we can’t look at this E15 decision in isolation,” Jennings continued. “EPA needs to quit mismanaging the RFS through small refinery waivers. The net effect of E15 year-round and 2.61 billion gallons worth of demand destruction through refinery waivers means we’re still in the hole from an ethanol demand standpoint. We’re not turning a blind eye to that and will continue to put pressure on the administration to do right by the RFS.”

Geoff Cooper, resident and CEO of the RFA, released a statement ahead of the SIRE event thinking Trump for keeping his promise to remove the “unnecessary and ridiculous regulatory barrier that prohibited the summertime use of E15 in most of the country.”

“President Trump understands that ethanol plants like SIRE are important economic engines in rural America, supporting good-paying jobs and bolstering the farm economy,” Cooper said. “And he knows ethanol reduces prices at the pump, plays a key role in American energy dominance, and helps clean the air we breathe. I can say without hyperbole or exaggeration that without President Trump’s personal interest and advocacy on year-round E15, this critical regulatory reform would not have happened. We are thrilled to have President Trump visit Iowa, so we can personally thank him for his commitment to our nation’s ethanol producers and farmers.”

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, expressed gratitude to Trump for delivering on his promise to unleash the power of E15 year-round. “The approval of year-round E15 is an incredible milestone for the biofuels industry, and the result of over a decade of hard work by Growth Energy, our members, our congressional champions, and folks all across rural America who made their voices heard,” Skor said. “With year-round E15, retailers will have the regulatory certainty they need to offer American drivers a cleaner, more affordable fuel choice throughout the year.”