Home 5 Ag Stories Future of E-15 still uncertain

Future of E-15 still uncertain

Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Ethanol production uses over 5 billion bushels of corn every year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) increased that amount by 50 million bushels for the 2019 crop year, which starts in the last quarter of this year.

Corn growers want more corn to go to ethanol, but there needs to be more demand for ethanol to blend with gasoline to accomplish that.

The goal is to blend E-15 year round as opposed to the 10% blend in all gasoline and 15% blend in the winter months available in some pumps in some regions.

This week the EPA Administrator is visiting ethanol facilities and is getting a varied reception.  In Kansas, good. In South Dakota, bad.

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday visited an ethanol production facility in Kansas. The Administrator stopped at the East Kansas Agri-Energy ethanol plant and met with local agriculture groups. The visit comes a week after the White House stopped a proposal which ethanol groups said would harm the industry, allowing Renewable Identification Number (RIN) exports. The proposal also included year-round E15 sales.

Administrator Pruitt told the group he believes E-15 should be available year-round. He said the EPA has the authority and will seek a waiver to allow year-round E-15 sales. But, the ethanol industry has seen other perceived attacks, including hardship waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for an estimated demand loss of 1.56 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Those in the ethanol industry meeting with Pruitt did not hold back, expressing their anger towards him and the EPA. Pruitt, via Twitter, said the meeting was “candid and productive.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is visiting South Dakota today, but is getting a cold shoulder from the state’s corn growers. Pruitt is scheduled to visit with sorghum producers at a cattle operation in Reliance. However, South Dakota Corn Growers Association executive director Lisa Richardson says President Trump promised to provide the pathway for year-round sales of E-15 and Pruitt is not welcome in the state unless he is delivering on that promise.

She says Pruitt has single-handedly damaged the ethanol industry by proposing a cap on RINs and granting hardship waivers to oil refiners, to opt out of their obligation under the Renewable Fuels Standard. This has resulted in lost corn grind of 700,000 to 800,000 bushels.