COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- En route to a GOP event in Des Moines, President Trump paid a visit to an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs to sign an executive order making changes to the E15 rule.
President Trump steps off Air Force One about 30 minutes after landing at Offutt Air Force Base on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. The president stopped by the Heartland to visit to an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs en route to a GOP fund-raiser in Des Moines. (WOWT)
"As a candidate for president, I pledged to protect the ethanol industry and fight for farmers," Trump told the crowd gathered at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant or SIRE, which produces about 110 million gallons of ethanol each year.
Ahead of this speech, which started about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, the president took a quick closer look at the plant. A more thorough tour, had previously been on the president's itinerary, but Air Force One arrived later than scheduled.
Until just days ago, the EPA banned the sale of E15 in the summer because of concerns that it leads to smog. But Trump’s administration says E15’s impact on air quality is similar to E10.
The biofuel, made from 15 percent ethanol, is still not very common at U.S. gas stations, but corn farmers are hoping the rule change will increase its use and also help farmers suffering from the U.S. trade war with China.
Trump also talked about the trade relationships with Canada and Mexico as well as the tariffs. The president has said he’s helped farmers significantly, but some say he’s actually cost the industry billions.
The president invited a few farmers from the area up to the podium to talk about how the year-round availability of E15 will impact them.
After his final remarks, Trump signed documents putting the new E15 rules into effect. The president then headed to Des Moines to attend a political fundraiser in the state's capital.
Today, here in Iowa, we honor America’s cherished farming heritage. We salute your commitment to American Energy Independence — and we celebrate the bright future we are forging together powered by clean, affordable AMERICAN ETHANOL! https://t.co/WhuPwrETYk— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2019
Air Force One landed at Offutt Air Force Base about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday as the president stopped en route to a GOP dinner in Des Moines.
White House sources said Trump, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst were aboard the plane from Washington, D.C. this afternoon; Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert joined him after his arrival to disembark.
Trump is not the only 2020 presidential candidate in Iowa today. Former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a speech calling Trump an “existential threat.” This morning, Trump said Biden is the “weakest mentally” of all the 2020 candidates and referred to Biden as a “dummy.”
It’s been about eight months since Trump was last in the Heartland. In October, he held a rally at Mid-America Center also touting ethanol and to show support for area Republicans ahead of the November midterm election.