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Grassley Critical of EPA Administrator, but still Supports Him

John Pemble
IPR file photo
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley expects the president to stand behind a pledge on E-15.

The prospect of selling gasoline with more ethanol throughout the year remains alive, but likely won’t be approved in time for the upcoming summer driving season.

Most gasoline containing ethanol has no more than 10 percent. A blend with up to 15 percent, called E-15, is available in some places, but in certain markets sales are prohibited from June first through September 15.

In an ongoing push-pull between oil refiners and ethanol producers, President Donald Trump has indicated nationwide, year-round sales of E-15 could be in the works.

“The president hasn’t backed off of it,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday, “as often he does back off of things that he says in a big meeting, particularly if it’s televised. And he hasn’t backed off of this. So I think that we’re going to get our E-15.”

Grassley says increasing the amount of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply would help corn farmers because it would mean more domestic demand.

Despite his confidence in the president’s intent, Grassley is continuing his verbal assault on the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for the Renewable Fuel Standard. Grassley has said on Twitter and in a call with reporters that Scott Pruitt is undermining the president’s commitment to the RFS. Among his concerns is that Pruitt’s agency has issued hardship waivers to large oil companies, effectively exempting them from certain requirements of the law and saving them money. 

Still, Grassley remains supportive of Pruitt keeping his job.

“Even though I think he’s screwing the family farmer and helping very rich refineries,” Grassley said, “I still think almost everything else he’s done as EPA director is the right thing to do.”

Grassley says the timeline for approval of year-round E-15 will require a public comment period meaning summer E-15 sales probably won’t be possible everywhere until 2019.