President Donald Trump on Saturday offered a boost to the ethanol industry as he courts farmers and biofuel producers in Midwestern swing states before the November election.
Trump has approved using existing filling station pumps to distribute higher-ethanol gasoline.
“Subject only to State approval, our important Ethanol Industry will be allowed to use the 10% Pumps for the 15% BLEND,” Trump tweeted.
The administration’s announcement followed a conversation Trump had with Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who’s been pushing for the change as she seeks re-election. Ernst, in her own tweet, welcomed the news.
But some rural voters groups remained wary of what they argue historically has been Trump’s backing of the oil industry CL00, +0.16% at the expense of promoting alternative fuels and said the decision from the president had been a long time coming.
“The announcement made today is little more than an election-year gambit,” said Chris Gibbs, the board president of Ohio-based policy group Rural America 2020.
“You can’t sell out to Big Oil for the first 3 1/2 years of your presidency and then expect farmers to believe you with 52 days to the election,” Gibbs said. “You can’t undo 4 billion lost gallons of biofuel with last minute election games.”
The Trump administration’s EPA in 2019 approved the sale of a 15% ethanol-gasoline blend known as E15 year-round. It previously had been blocked for sale in the summer in many areas where smog is an issue.
Most gasoline sold in the U.S. is a 10% blend known as E10.