WASHINGTON—The White House announced plans to temporarily allow high-ethanol content gasoline to be sold during the summer in an effort to curb high gas prices, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will allow E15 to be sold between June 1 and September 15.
Typically during summer U.S. gas stations are only allowed to sell a 10% ethanol blend to reduce smog caused by the 15% blend’s higher volatility. The EPA will issue an emergency waiver allowing the summer sale of E15.
Using E15 year-round could save drivers 10 cents a gallon, according to the Biden administration. E15 is currently is available in 30 states at just over 2,300 stations, according to the Energy Department, which is a small amount of America’s 116,641 convenience stores that sell gas.
Last month, NACS asked the EPA to authorize the year-round sale of E15.
“This common-sense step would provide much-needed price relief at the pump while enhancing America’s energy security and improving gasoline’s emissions characteristics,” wrote NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, in a letter to the EPA. “Allowing the year-round sale of E15 in all parts of the country would help enhance supply and lower prices for all American fuel consumers.”
U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a bipartisan congressional group that urged President Biden to permit retailers to sell E15 fuel all year.
“As the United States joins global partners in seeking to hold accountable and isolate the Russian Federation for its unprovoked assault on Ukraine, we must deny Russia’s economic lifeblood of energy dominance,” the senators wrote in letter to the president. “This will require tapping every accessible contribution of American energy technology. As you know, American biofuels are one such readily available energy solution that offer consumers affordable and cleaner options at the pump.”
Environmentalists have opposed the year-round use of E15 because of the additional smog created by the higher blend, but farmers who grow the corn used to make ethanol support the use.
Additionally, higher ethanol blending can sometimes raise refinery prices, according to oil industry officials, and they question whether the move to year-round E15 use can lower prices and would rather see more investment in U.S. oil and gas production, reports the Journal.
The EPA will cite the Russia-Ukraine war as the reason for the emergency waiver, and it will review the waiver every 20 days to see if the measure should stay in place.