Critics Wary As Biden Pushes New Ethanol Blend Amid Sky-High Gas Prices

Casey Harper, The Center Square

In response to rising gas prices, President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that his administration would allow the use of a new type of gasoline in this summer.

The White House said that the Environmental Protection Agency administrator will allow the use of E15 gasoline, “gasoline that uses a 15 percent ethanol blend,” as a cheaper alternative. E15 will be allowed by the EPA in an emergency waiver that takes effect on June 1, and ends Sept. 15. However, it will not be sold at all stations.

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

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This news is coming as Americans across the nation continue to face higher gasoline prices. AAA reports that the national average gas price has increased to $4.10 from $2.86 last year.

During this time, all types of goods and services have become more costly since Biden was elected.

The Federal Pricing Data released Tuesday revealed that inflation rose at an unprecedented rate over the past 40 years, with the rise in energy prices leading the charge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, its Consumer Price Index (a key indicator of inflation) showed that prices rose by 1.2% in March. This contributed to an 8.5% increase in past twelve months.

“Increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase,” BLS said. “The gasoline index rose 18.3 percent in March and accounted for over half of the all items monthly increase; other energy component indexes also increased. The food index rose 1.0 percent and the food at home index rose 1.5 percent.”

Biden recognized these rises and declared that his plan would assist in increasing fuel supply.

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

Critics, though, say Biden’s announcement will lead to an increase in food prices, which have soared and are expected to continue to rise this year. A variety of processed foods use corn, which is what makes ethanol.

“The Biden administration seems to have forgotten that there is a real threat of a global food shortage due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Katie Tubb, an economic expert at the Heritage Foundation. “Countries all over the world, including the U.S., need to identify ways to increase food production. Already, the RFS has led to soy and corn being grown with the intention of being used as fuel, rather than being used to meet food or feed demand. Now the administration would be making this problem even worse.”

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Critics also argue the plan does not address the problem long-term and point out the EPA has stated in the past that fuel waivers “cannot be issued to address concerns regarding the price of fuel.”

“Recent increases in gasoline pump prices are linked to increased crude oil prices and rising 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 political steps that fail to acknowledge the logistical, legal and compatibility constraints that limit the ability of E15 to influence prices at the pump today. E15 is a fuel that will be more popular in the future. However, it is not available at all retail outlets.

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

The Center Square permission granted this syndicated version.