Critics wary as Biden pushes new ethanol blend amid sky-high gas prices

By Casey Harper (Centre Square)

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that his administration will allow a new type of gasoline to be used nationwide this summer in response to high gas prices.

The White House said the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency will allow the use of E15 gasoline, “a gasoline that uses a 15% blend of ethanol,” as a cheaper alternative. The EPA will issue an emergency waiver to allow E15 that takes effect June 1 and ends September 15, though the fuel is only available at a small fraction of gas stations.

“We’re not just leaning on our reserves or our allies and partners to help bring gas prices down,” Biden said in his remarks in Menlo, Iowa. “We are counting on you, our farmers, our biofuel refiners.”

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The news comes as Americans across the country continue to struggle with rising gas prices. According to AAA, the national average gas price is $4.10, compared to $2.86 at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, rising inflation has made all kinds of goods and services significantly more expensive since Biden took office.

Federal price data released on Tuesday showed inflation rising at the fastest rate in 40 years, with energy costs leading the way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index, a major marker of inflation, showing prices rose another 1.2% in March, contributing to an 8.5% rise over the past few months. last 12 months.

“Increases in the gasoline, housing and food indexes were the main contributors to the seasonally adjusted increase for all items,” the BLS said. “The gasoline index rose 18.3% in March and accounted for more than half of the monthly increase for all items; the indices of the other energy components also increased. The food index increased by 1.0% and the home food index increased by 1.5%.

Biden acknowledged those increases and said his plan would help by increasing fuel supplies.

“E15 costs about ten cents a gallon less than E10, and some gas stations offer the same [bigger] discount than that,” Biden said. “But many gas stations that sell it… are required to stop selling in the summer.”

Critics, however, say Biden’s announcement will drive up food prices, which have soared and are expected to continue rising this year. Corn, used to make ethanol, is used in a range of processed foods.

“The Biden administration seems to have forgotten that there is a real threat of global food shortages due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Katie Tubb, an economics expert at the Heritage Foundation. “Countries around the world, including the United States, must identify ways to increase food production. RFS is already leading to crops, such as corn and soybeans, being planted for use as fuel instead of meeting food (or fodder) demand. Now the administration would make this problem worse.

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Critics also argue the plan doesn’t solve the long-term problem and point out that the EPA has said in the past that fuel waivers “cannot be issued to address fuel price concerns.”

“Recent increases in gasoline prices at the pump are tied to rising crude oil prices and growing geopolitical volatility,” said Ron Chittim, vice president of Downstream Policy at the American Petroleum Institute. “Americans are looking for long-term solutions, not short-term policy measures that ignore the logistical, legal, and compatibility constraints that limit E15’s ability to influence pump prices today. We recognize that E15 will become a bigger share of the market in the future, but the fact is that this fuel is only available at 2% of filling stations.

“The best way to ensure that Americans have access to the affordable and reliable energy they need is to promote policies that encourage American production and send a clear message that America is open to energy investment,” he added.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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