Fuels

EPA to OK More Ethanol in Gasoline This Summer

Decision intended to help lower retail fuel prices
environmental protection agency (EPA)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration plans to temporarily allow fuel retailers to sell high-ethanol-content gasoline in the hot summer months to address high pump prices, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, citing senior administration officials.

The decision will allow gasoline with 15% ethanol (E15) to be sold between June 1 and Sept. 15. Normally, only a 10% ethanol blend can be sold during that period to reduce smog caused by the 15% blend’s higher volatility.

The agency will review every 20 days whether to keep the emergency measure in place, officials said.

“The focus here is also on making sure we are meeting the near-term supply emergency and doing so by leveraging homegrown fuels,” one of the senior officials said, according to the newspaper.

Allowing fuels with a higher ethanol content will decrease reliance on oil and give drivers more options, senior administration officials said, adding that it could save drivers 10 cents a gallon.

Oil-industry officials have questioned whether such moves would lower prices, said the report. Higher ethanol blending can sometimes raise prices on refiners. Corn prices, like oil, have also seen sharp increases this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it said.

Environmentalists have also opposed past attempts to raise the summertime cap because of the additional smog created by the higher blend, said the report, but the higher content has long been supported by farmers who grow corn used to make ethanol.

Industry leaders want the president instead to find ways to encourage investment in more U.S. oil and gas production, the Journal said.

“We’re concerned that the administration is not focused on the real structural problems here and is attempting to find short-term fixes that don’t get at the heart of the issue,” Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute (API), told the newspaper.

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