Republicans urge vote on pro-ethanol bill

Republican lawmakers from corn-producing states are hoping to get a vote on a pro-ethanol bill as soon as possible after striking a deal ahead of last week’s failed repeal of the Obama administration’s methane rule on oil and natural gas drillers.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who introduced the bipartisan ethanol bill, “received assurances” from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., “that there will be a hearing and a markup” on the bill, said Brianna Puccini, spokeswoman for Fischer.

Fischer’s bill would eliminate an Environmental Protection Agency restriction on selling 15-percent ethanol blends during the summer. The bill would allow the fuel to be sold year around and thus expand its market.

The EPA had allowed the use of E15 in 2001 model year and newer vehicles, which the oil and gas industry has fought, arguing that the fuel would damage vehicle engines. But the ethanol industry says more new vehicles have engine warranties covering the use of the fuel and can run optimally on it. The oil industry counters that educating consumers on which model vehicles can and cannot use the fuel has been an ongoing problem.

Most of the U.S. gasoline supply includes 10 percent ethanol fuel blends as part of the EPA Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires refiners to blend higher percentages of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel supplies through 2022.

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