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Trump blasts summer E15 ban, says year-round access is coming


EPA has promised to lift E15 ban by June 1 start of driving season

Fuel marketers waiting for more certainty before adding pumps

Washington — US President Donald Trump on Thursday called the summertime ban on higher-ethanol fuels a "ridiculous rule," but gave no new timeline for providing year-round access to E15, or gasoline blended with 15% ethanol.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has said it plans to issue a final rule allowing summertime E15 sales by June 1, the start of the US summer driving season.

"We're ensuring that ethanol remains a vital part of America's energy future," Trump said at the White House while announcing federal aid to farmers and ranchers hurt by the ongoing trade dispute with China.

"We increased it to E15," Trump added. "That's tremendous for, in particular, our corn farmers ... I just did it recently, and I made a promise during the campaign that I was going to do it. I don't know if it had an impact, but I won Iowa by a lot."

S&P Global Platts assessed D6 ethanol Renewable Identification Numbers for 2019 compliance at 13.75 cents/RIN Thursday and D6 RINs for 2018 compliance at 9.5 cents/RIN.

RINs are tradable credits EPA issues to track production and use of alternative transportation fuels. For corn-based ethanol, one gallon of ethanol yields one RIN.

Trump promised in October his administration would approve year-round E15 access, but the policy change got bogged down by the government shutdown and by the intractable debate between biofuel makers and oil refiners.

EPA proposed a year-round E15 rule in March, a process that typically takes several months before a final version is adopted.

Market observers say fuel station owners are likely waiting until the rule is final before adding any new equipment. E15 must be stored and pumped separately from E10. And even after the policy is final, lawsuits could delay or reverse it.

The Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol trade group, predicts hundreds of fuel stations would add E15 equipment in the months after EPA adopts a final rule and thousands within several years.

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects E15 to expand in three phases after EPA lifts the ban: higher sales at stations that already sell E15; new stations adding tanks and pumps for the first time; and eventually new markets opening in the 20 or so states that currently do not allow E15, including California and New York.

Reid Vapor Pressure gasoline volatility rules currently ban sales of E15 from June 1 to September 15.

-- Meghan Gordon,

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,