EPA issues waiver on ethanol gasoline to combat rising prices

As part of President Joe Biden’s attempt to lower high fuel costs, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a waiver to increase the sale of ethanol-blended gasoline. According to the Washington Examiner, the emergency waiver eliminates limits on E15, a corn-based ethanol-based gasoline, enabling merchants across the country to sell it between June and September. 

Current restrictions limit sales to reduce smog-causing volatile organic compound emissions, however certain localities are exempt. The EPA said it issued the waiver “to counteract Russia’s unjustified, unprovoked, and unconscionable war against Ukraine and the profound impact on global and domestic energy markets.”

In response to what the administration has branded “Putin’s price hike,” Biden announced plans to eliminate the limitations on April 12 during a visit to a bioprocessing plant in Iowa, the nation’s largest corn grower. Since the start of the Ukraine war, gasoline prices have risen to their highest nominal levels ever. The national average for the week ending April 25 was $4.10 per gallon, up slightly from the previous week.

In a statement released on Friday, Chet Thompson, president and CEO of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, slammed the decision, saying it “will not solve the problem.” He explained, “To stabilize gasoline prices, protect union jobs and strengthen U.S. energy security for the long term, we encourage President Biden to focus on domestic energy production and reforms to policies like the [renewable fuel standard] that needlessly make it more expensive to manufacture gasoline and diesel for drivers here in the United States.”

Members of Congress from both parties in the Midwest have been lobbying the Biden administration to expand the use of ethanol to reduce high costs and propose year-round E15 authorization. Other industry organizations representing small shops and oil refiners are opposed to the expansion of E15, and they won a court battle when the Trump administration altered E15 standards to allow for more sales.

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