In effort to ease gas prices, Biden wants to expand availability of ethanol blend

Written by on April 12, 2022

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday another step to try to reduce prices for drivers who’ve been paying extra to replenish their tanks: increasing the supply of biofuels.

Whereas visiting an ethanol plant in Iowa, Biden will announce the administration plans on permitting gasoline that makes use of a 15% ethanol mix to be bought in the course of the summer season, in keeping with senior administration officers who spoke on situation of anonymity.

Referred to as E15, the mix can value 10 cents per gallon much less on common on the 2,300 fuel stations the place it is bought, the officers mentioned.

Common fuel is averaging around $4.11 a gallon in contrast with $2.86 a 12 months in the past, in keeping with AAA, and Biden is under political pressure to point out he’s doing what he can to ease the worth ache on the pump.

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Americans are feeling pain at the pump, as gas prices hit record highs of $4.33 per gallon in March

His announcement comes the identical day the Shopper Value Index for March will probably be launched, a report that’s anticipated to point out a big year-to-year spike in inflation.

Setting expectations for an enormous quantity, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday mentioned the administration expects inflation “to be terribly elevated” due to the leap in oil costs after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

“We’re taking a spread of steps to scale back the worth of fuel to maneuver us towards a long-term, extra clear power financial system,” she additionally mentioned.

Biden beforehand introduced the U.S. would attempt to spur oil manufacturing and tap strategic reserves to ease gas prices, which spiked after Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting a ban on Russian oil imports.

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Democrats have labeled the rise “Putin’s value hike” whereas Republicans cost that Biden may very well be doing extra to extend home oil manufacturing.

Administration officers mentioned the motion Biden will announce Tuesday will enhance using home-grown biofuels, decreasing dependence on overseas fuels.

Whereas virtually all gasoline within the U.S. incorporates 10% ethanol, entry to E15 is curtailed yearly in some states from June 1 to Sept. 15 as a result of it’s believed to contribute to smog throughout hotter climate.

The EPA has decided that lifting that restriction just isn’t more likely to have a serious environmental affect as a result of many of the fuel stations that promote E15 should not in areas with air high quality points, in keeping with a senior administration official. 

The EPA just isn’t anticipated to behave till nearer to June, when it is going to decide if a nationwide gas provide emergency nonetheless exists. The company can grant waivers in 20-day increments. 

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An ethanol production facility.

Below President Donald Trump, the EPA granted E15 a waiver for year-round use in 2019. However final 12 months, the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule, saying the company had exceeded its authority. The U.S. Supreme Court docket declined in January to listen to a problem to the ruling.

Requested why Biden’s actions will not run into the identical drawback, senior administration officers mentioned – with out going into element – that Biden’s strategy is completely different.

Along with addressing power costs, Biden’s Iowa journey is a part of the highlight the administration is shining on rural communities this month. Cupboard secretaries and different administration officers are touring to dozens of communities to tout what Biden is doing for rural areas. 

“Investments are being made to replicate the worth and significance of rural locations and other people,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the previous governor of Iowa, mentioned Monday.

Iowa is the nation’s prime producer of renewable gas and the corn used to make it.

Elected officers, each Republicans and Democrats, from Iowa and different corn belt states, in addition to farm teams and biofuel producers, have pressed Biden to make use of his emergency powers to permit summer season use of E15.

A Harvard examine final 12 months confirmed the use and manufacturing of ethanol emits as much as 46% fewer greenhouse gasses than gasoline. A College of Wisconsin examine has challenged that discovering, saying ethanol is worse for the atmosphere than gasoline, based mostly on adjustments in how land is used to develop the corn used to supply it. However the Argonne Nationwide Laboratory disagreed with the Wisconsin examine final month, saying the group overestimated carbon loss from soil and double-counted some emissions, amongst different issues.

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