Ernst IA E15

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy near Council Bluffs June 11 before President Donald Trump took the stage.

DES MOINES — President Donald Trump’s trip to Iowa to celebrate his administration’s approval of the year-round sale of the E15 ethanol blend was met Tuesday with cheers from Iowa Republicans.

Iowa Democrats provided a more measured, “Yeah, but,” type of response.

Trump was scheduled to tour a Council Bluffs ethanol plant June 11 then attend a state party fundraiser in Des Moines. At the ethanol plant Trump highlighted his administration’s move to clear the E15 ethanol blend for year-round sale.

Previously, E15 could not be sold during the summer months because of concerns over its environmental impact during warm weather.

Iowa’s top elected Republicans, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Gov. Kim Reynolds, co-signed a long statement in which they praised Trump for fulfilling his campaign promise to approve the year-round sale of E15.

“Ending the nonsensical ban on the summertime sale of E15 is a promise made and kept by President Trump. Unlike so many politicians before him, he is following through on his commitments,” the statement said. “This is a victory for farmers, rural America and the entire nation.”

Praise for the Trump administration’s E15 approval from Iowa Democrats was more tepid.

Tom Vilsack and Patty Judge, on behalf of the progressive advocacy group Focus on Rural America, told reporters that while the ethanol industry and corn farmers are pleased with the E15 approval, any benefit does not make up for the harm caused by the Trump administration granting ethanol mandate exemptions to oil refineries.

Vilsack is a former two-term Iowa governor and two-term U.S. agriculture secretary; Judge was state ag secretary under Vilsack and lieutenant governor.

In its last three years, the Obama administration approved 23 waiver requests to the ethanol mandate, exempting 690 million gallons of gas from the biofuel blending requirement, according to data compiled by Focus on Rural America. The Trump administration thus far has approved more than 40 waivers, exempting 2.6 billion gallons of gas, according to Focus on Rural America.

“The EPA gives with one hand and with the waiver process takes with the other hand,” Vilsack said.

Illinois Soybean Growers President Lynn Rohrscheib attended the event in Council Bluffs.

“Illinois farmers want long-term relief from the year-long market uncertainty we have faced. Illinois’ 43,000 soybean producers rely on trade to maintain their livelihoods. We simply want to sell the crop we are raising to customers in the marketplace,” she said in a statement. “That marketplace also includes biodiesel producers. We believe a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) creates a much-needed incentive for biodiesel and brings additional value to soybean producers.”