ASHTON—President Donald Trump kept his promise to farmers and biofuel supporters.
On Friday, May 31, the Environmental Protection Agency, under directives set forth by the White House, approved the year-round sale of E15, which is gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol.
Previously, E15 was not allowed to be sold during the summer months.
This new policy should be beneficial to N’West Iowa, which is home to four ethanol plants, including POET Biorefining south of Ashton.
The POET facility near Ashton has played a major role in spurring the local economy since it opened and is a member of the Sibley and Worthington, MN, chambers of commerce as well the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation.
Employing about 40 people, the plant consumes about 16 million bushels of corn to produce about 56 million gallons of ethanol on an annual basis.
Additionally, most of the corn purchased by the Ashton plant comes from farms around the region and southwest Minnesota. N’West Iowa is one of the top corn-growing regions in a state that leads the nation in that area.
Based out of Sioux Falls, SD, POET is one of the largest producers of ethanol in the world and the company welcomed the news.
“The Trump Administration’s year-round E15 rule is a huge win for farmers, clean fuels and consumer choice,” said POET CEO Jeff Broin. “Millions of drivers will now have the freedom to choose cleaner-burning E15 and enjoy greater savings at the pump when they need it most — during the summer driving season when fuel prices peak.”
The news also should provide a boost to the slumping ag economy, which is feeling the effects of various trade wars, low commodity prices and a historically wet planting period.
Broin thinks this latest development could offer a lift.
“Nationwide adoption of E15 will drive the production of 7 billion gallons of biofuels, creating additional demand for 2 billion bushels of corn each year, and unlocking new domestic demand for homegrown fuels at a critical time for America’s farmers,” he said.
Trump publicly announced his intentions to make E15 available year-round during an October rally in Council Bluffs.
With that promise fulfilled, Iowa political and renewable fuel leaders expressed their thanks to the POTUS on Friday.
“This rule represents a long overdue step toward creating a truly competitive fuel market, where cleaner-burning, lower-cost biofuel blends are available to all consumers,” said Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig. “This means stronger markets for farm families across Iowa who have been struggling with ongoing low commodity prices and trade tensions.”
Iowa’s renewable fuel industry represents about three percent of the state’s gross domestic product and supports about 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. Additionally, the Hawkeye State is one of the leading producers of biofuels.