President Donald Trump will stop at the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy plant Tuesday to tout a new Environmental Protection Agency rule lifting the summertime ban on the sale of E15 gasoline blends.

The EPA had restricted the sale of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol in 2011 as part of its efforts to reduce smog.

The Trump administration announced last week it would allow the sale of E15 gasoline year-round — a move backed by Nebraska corn growers and ethanol producers — as part of its commitment to support American farmers.

Nebraska ethanol producers say the switch to year-round E15 will mean increased production at the 25 plants in the state. That means more demand for Nebraska-grown corn, particularly as farmers face uncertainties in trade, climate, and what many have described as a property tax crisis.

A February report jointly written by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Business Research found Nebraska's ethanol industry produced 2 billion gallons in 2017 valued at $2.8 billion, employed 1,453 people, and contributed $13 million in business taxes.

Roger Berry, who started as the Nebraska Ethanol Board's administrator June 1, said there is plenty of room for growth in the state's ethanol industry to meet increased demand for E15.

The EPA rule change sends a signal to gas stations and other retailers they have a green light to join "early adopters" that now sell the fuel nine months out of the year, Berry said.

For Trump's trip to the region, Air Force One will land at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue on Tuesday where the president will be greeted by Gov. Pete Ricketts and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a senior administration official said Monday.

The president will then travel by motorcade to the ethanol plant south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he will briefly tour the grain-receiving facility, as well as the corn meal-drying facility before delivering remarks at the invitation-only event.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst will introduced Trump to the audience. The president is scheduled to begin speaking at 3:15 p.m.

Trump will then return to Offutt, and travel to Des Moines for a fundraising dinner Tuesday night.

The visit marks the fourth time the president has visited Nebraska and Iowa since he took office, and the first time since October 2018.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


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