Tags: epa | gas | prices | biden | 2024

EPA Expands Sale of Higher-Ethanol Gas to Curb Prices

EPA Expands Sale of Higher-Ethanol Gas to Curb Prices
Gas prices at an Arco station in Mill Valley, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Friday, 19 April 2024 12:18 PM EDT

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will temporarily expand sales of higher-ethanol blends of gasoline this summer in an effort to reduce potential supply disruptions amid ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, it said in a letter Friday.

The decision marks the third consecutive year the administration has lengthened the period during which Americans can keep buying E15, a gasoline that uses a 15% ethanol blend. Sales are effectively blocked from June 1 to Sept.

Adding ethanol to gasoline is known to increase smog pollution in hot weather, but research has shown little difference between E15 and the more-widely available E10 blends.

"Considering that no significant change in air pollution is projected to occur as a result of this action, the EPA concludes that this action is in the public interest," EPA Administrator Michael Regan wrote.

Gas prices have risen 29% this year on higher demand, tighter supplies due to OPEC+ production cuts, and geopolitical risks in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of S&P Global, said oil prices above $90 a barrel present a problem for the markets, consumers—and the incumbent president.

“It’s also a problem for inflation in general,” Yergin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “And it’s a real problem if you’re an incumbent running for election.”

On Thursday, National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard said the White House will work to keep gas prices affordable. Asked whether the Biden admin will tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Brainard hinted that the administration might; in 2022, the White House released 180 million barrels from the SPR.

“There are, of course, things that have been done in the past, and we’ll continue to very closely monitor, to make sure that gas prices remain affordable for so many American families going into the summer driving season,” Brainard said at Semafor’s World Economy Summit.

Brainard echoed what White House climate advisor John Podesta said Tuesday, that Biden “will do what he can to make sure” gasoline is affordable.

News of higher-ethanol gas blends to be available was cheered by the Farm Belt, an important constituency ahead of this year's presidential election, who will likely see increased demand for their products.

"With gas prices on the rise again and geopolitical conflict roiling global energy markets, we applaud President Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan for taking decisive action to combat potential fuel shortages and keep a lid on gas prices this summer," said Renewable Fuels Association President and chief executive Geoff Cooper.

Lawmakers, including Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, and Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, had argued in a letter to Biden that allowing expanded sales of E15 would increase energy security.

The waiver is effective on May 1 and will continue for 20 days. The administration intends to renew the waiver until it is no longer necessary, it said.

The corn industry lobby has long tried to expand year-round sales of E15, an effort that culminated in February, when the administration approved a request from Midwestern governors that would allow summertime sales of E15 in their states, starting in 2025. The industry is still pushing for a nationwide, permanent expansion of E15.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


StreetTalk
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will temporarily expand sales of higher-ethanol blends of gasoline this summer in an effort to reduce potential supply disruptions amid ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, it said in a letter Friday.
epa, gas, prices, biden, 2024
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2024-18-19
Friday, 19 April 2024 12:18 PM
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