Published:  12:56 AM, 14 June 2018

EPA chief hints he could order more ethanol in fuel

EPA chief hints he could order more ethanol in fuel EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

A week after the White House suspended its bid to reform the nation's biofuels policy to aid oil refiners, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday dangled a tantalizing prospect to Midwest corn farmers, saying the agency has the power to expand sales of higher ethanol gasoline blends.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made the comments during a multi-day tour of the Midwest, as he fended off criticism from farmers and heartland lawmakers that his attempts since last year to overhaul the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) marked a betrayal of Republican President Donald Trump's promises to support rural jobs.

Those efforts, aimed at helping the oil industry cope with the costs of the RFS, came to a halt last week when the White House delayed indefinitely the announcement of a deal that had been months in the making.

The deal would have effectively reduce the amount of corn-based ethanol U.S. refiners were required to blend, while also allowing summertime sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, a practice EPA currently bans due to smog concerns.

---Reuters, New York

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