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Biden to Visit Menlo Ethanol Plant, Make E-15 Announcement

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 11, 2022. Iowa has never been fertile ground for Joe Biden. His 2020 presidential campaign limped to a fourth place finish in the state’s technology-glitchy caucus. After bouncing back to win the nomination, Biden lost the state to Donald Trump handily in November. Biden heads back to Iowa for the first time as president on Tuesday facing yet more political peril. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

DES MOINES, IA (Radio Iowa) President Biden will visit an Iowa ethanol plant today (Tuesday) to highlight steps to expand the use of “homegrown” biofuels. Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports.

The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a waiver so E-15 — gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend — can be sold nationwide all year long. Under current regulations, E-15 cannot be sold in most of the country between June 1st and September 15th. The leader of a trade association for the ethanol industry says this is welcome news for all American drivers seeking lower cost options at the pump. The U-S-D-A is providing 100 million dollars in grants for installing or upgrading gas station equipment that can dispense gasoline with higher blends of ethanol and diesel with a higher concentration of a soybean-based additive.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst says expanding the biofuels industry is a national security issue.

“It’s not only important for the United States — clean energy! — but it sure is a great way to push back against Vladamir Putin,” Ernst said. Ernst was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and has lobbied the Obama, Trump and Biden Administrations on policies to expand ethanol production. That includes refusing to issue waivers so oil refinerites don’t have to blend ethanol into gasoline and allowing fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol — E-15 — to be sold year-round all around the country. Anti-smog rules have prevented E-15’s sale in most areas during the summer months. Ernst says Biden’s trip to Menlo was a surprise.

“With everything that is going on, I just did not anticipate that he would be traveling right now. His approval levels are very low, but at the same time, you know, he needs to be out engaging with the public. We’ve got high inflation. We’ve got high gas costs…He needs to get out and he needs to explain his position,” Ernst said. “He needs to engage with constituents — and maybe that would help.” Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, says promoting biofuels and allowing summer sales of E-15 is far better than pursuing expanded crude oil production from Middle East countries and Venezuela. The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party has said he’s thrilled Iowans can hear directly from Biden about the agenda Democrats are pursuing to lower costs for working families. This is Biden’s first trip to Iowa as president. Biden was last here four days before the 2020 General Election, for a drive-in rally on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

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