It didn’t take long for the naysayers to crop up after President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that he had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to start the process of obtaining regulatory approval for year-round sales of E15.
There were the critics you’d expect, such as the American Petroleum Institute. The group that represents Big Oil wasted no time pumping out dark predictions that consumers would be somehow harmed by being allowed to choose more affordable and cleaner-burning fuel throughout the year.
But there were also other naysayers, many who are close to the ag community. Some warned that lawsuits and other maneuvers could cause long delays in the rule-making or could even block the implementation of year-round E15. Others wondered whether allowing the sales of E15 year-round is going to make much of a difference in corn prices, given today’s large supplies.
Yes, the rule-making process will take time, with comment periods and rewrites. We all know that the federal government is usually not swift. Lawsuits are probably inevitable, given that ethanol opponents have vowed to do anything to stop year-round E15.
But if the process never gets started, or backers hesitate because they are worried about lawsuits, that pretty much guarantees that the oil companies would win and E15 will remain off limits in the summer.
As for questions on whether the change will make a difference for farmers, my response is: What can it hurt? The corn price slump over the past several years was caused by numerous factors. Likewise, it’s going to take many supply-demand events for a rebound.
Year-round E15 could well be one of them.