U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday his administration may allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol year-round, something that could help farmers by bolstering corn demand. The Environmental Protection Agency currently bans the higher ethanol blend, called E15, during summer because of concerns it contributes to smog on hot days. Gasoline typically contains just 10 percent ethanol. “We’re going to be going probably, probably to 15 and we’re going to be going to a 12-month period,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with governors and lawmakers at the White House. “We’re going to work out something during the transition period, which is not easy, very complicated.” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said earlier in the day the agency “has been assessing the legal validity of granting an E15 waiver since last summer” and is awaiting an outcome from discussions with the White House, the Department of Agriculture and Congress before making any final decision.
The announcement comes as the White House seeks to appease both the corn and oil industries, which have been clashing over U.S. biofuels policy. Oil refiners have complained the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard requiring them to add biofuels into fuel is too costly while the agriculture sector has warned against any changes that would undermine ethanol demand.