President Trump to tout new ethanol rule in Council Bluffs today

President Donald Trump will tour an ethanol facility Tuesday in Council Bluffs and promote his administration’s new ethanol rule.

Critics also plan to highlight the number of waivers given to oil companies from federal requirements that they blend a certain amount of ethanol into their supplies.

The administration’s new plan allows year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15% ethanol, ending a summertime ban on the product.

That is something Trump promised during his 2016 campaign, and it’s expected to drive more business for corn farmers and ethanol plants. Iowa and Nebraska are the top two ethanol-producing states.

In Iowa, Trump plans to tour Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, where he will see a grain-receiving facility and a cornmeal-drying facility, according to the White House.

The president will give remarks to an invitation-only crowd.

Among others, Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne will attend the tour. Axne said in a statement that she plans to thank Trump for the ethanol rule but also plans to “discuss” the administration’s waivers for oil companies — an unpopular policy here — as well as the administration’s trade wars.

The ethanol industry and its Capitol Hill allies have complained bitterly about the EPA’s aggressive use of small refinery waivers in ways they say are not justified and are helping destroy demand for ethanol.

Trump’s last visit to Iowa, in October, was also a Council Bluffs trip to discuss ethanol — that time for a campaign rally with Iowa Republicans.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, both Republicans, are set to greet Trump at Offutt Air Force Base when he arrives.

GOP Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Joni Ernst of Iowa plan to join Trump on Air Force One. Ernst will introduce Trump in Iowa, according to the White House.

Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and both pushed for the new year-round E-15 rule.

It was not immediately clear whether Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., had been invited. Sasse has at times been a sharp critic of Trump.

In any event, Sasse spokesman James Wegmann said in a statement that Sasse would be staying in Washington.

“Like all Nebraskans, Sasse is grateful for the President’s decision on E-15 and is glad he’s coming to the Midwest,” Wegmann said. “Unfortunately, he has a briefing on the Army Corps’ flood prioritization and a classified Intel Committee briefing that are keeping him in D.C.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, declined an invitation, citing his long-standing streak of not missing Senate votes. Grassley holds the record for the longest period without skipping a vote.

His last absence was in 1993 — when he traveled back to Iowa in the midst of massive flooding there.

Later Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Des Moines.

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