President Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday to make gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, or E15, available during the summer months, which had previously not been allowed.
Trump said he signed a memo telling the EPA to lift summertime fueling restrictions on E15, according to Bloomberg News.
Trump underscored the policy change at a rally in Iowa on Tuesday, the nation’s top producer of ethanol and the corn with which it’s made.
“Today we are unleashing the power of E15 to fuel our country all year long,” Trump told the crowd in Council Bluffs, according to Bloomberg. “Promises made, promises kept.”
The plan was designed to appease U.S. corn farmers who have been hurt by low corn prices as a result of the U.S.-China trade dispute and might lead to lower prices at the pump, according to Market Watch.
Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told Market Watch that the move will lead to problems with labeling, equipment and will create problems with engines in cars manufactured before the year 2000.
It also poses problems for boat engines.
“President Trump should abandon this irresponsible proposal and instead work with Congress on reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard to deliver changes that result in better outcomes for all Americans,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Otherwise, we will continue to be stuck with a system that only picks winners and losers.”
President Trump’s decision to proceed with year-round E15 sales “places bad policy on top of bad policy,” Dammrich said.
“In addition to being legally dubious, this action will put millions of American consumers at a greater risk of misfuelling, so a small, politically important group can benefit,” he said.
The EPA regulates the Reid vapor pressure of gasoline from June 1 to Sept. 15, according to Market Watch. RVP is a common measure of gasoline volatility and is monitored to reduce “evaporative emissions from gasoline that contribute to ground-level ozone.”
Increasing the concentration of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent leads to higher RVP than is allowed during summer.
“In the short-term, we are most concerned about consumers,” Dammrich said. “Sixty-five percent of people assume that any gas sold at the pump is safe for all their products, not realizing federal regulation prohibits the use of E15 in small engines, like those in boats, lawn mowers and motorcycles. Lifting the restriction on E15 sales during the summer months will make misfuelling even more likely.”
A BoatUS survey found that more than half of all boaters fuel at roadside gas stations.
While the announcement didn’t surprise Dammrich, he said the opposition to expanded E15 sales by business, energy and environmental organizations is “striking.”
“When such strange bedfellows are aligned against a course of action, leaders would be wise to re-evaluate their position,” he said.