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U.S. EPA unveils plan to allow sales of higher-ethanol gasoline

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released its proposed rule ending the summertime ban of higher-ethanol blends of gasoline, a move requested by President Donald Trump to help corn growers that supply the raw material for the biofuel.

“Consistent with President Trump’s direction, EPA is working to propose and finalize these changes by the summer driving season,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a press release. “We will be holding a public hearing at the end of this month to gather important feedback.”

The oil industry has repeatedly said the expansion of higher ethanol blends of gasoline is illegal and it will challenge any such rule in court.

The rule includes measures to limit speculation in the multi-billion dollar biofuel credit market, a concession to merchant refiners such as Valero Energy Corp and PBF Energy Inc, which oppose higher ethanol use and have repeatedly complained about the costs of complying with U.S. biofuels policy. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by David Gregorio)