EPA issues waiver allowing higher-ethanol gas to be sold this summer

The Biden administration has issued a waiver allowing fuel with higher ethanol content to be sold during the summer months when gasoline prices typically rise.

E15, a fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol, is an estimated $0.25 cheaper than E10 fuel, which includes 10 percent ethanol. The waiver will take effect May 1, allowing gas stations in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin to sell the fuel blend on June 1.

Gas prices typically see an increase during the summer as demand rises, but the issue is particularly salient this summer, with both the looming presidential election and the prospect of escalating Middle Eastern tensions sending prices higher.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which announced the waiver, announced a final rule in February that will make E15 available year-round beginning in 2025, while representatives of the affected states have introduced legislation that would begin year-round availability this year.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the main trade group for ethanol and other biofuels, praised the move in a statement Friday.

“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 RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Allowing uninterrupted sales of E15 will help extend gasoline supplies, prevent fuel shortages, protect air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

The move also won bipartisan approval from members of Congress representing the affected states.

“Relying on American farmers for clean, reliable biofuels — like E15 — is a better energy solution than depending on foreign competitors,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this election cycle. “We pushed to expand the use of E15 now to send an important signal to manufacturers, consumers, and gas stations, which should help to lower energy prices throughout the summer all while expanding markets for Ohio farmers.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) posted Friday on the social platform X that, “Finally, Americans will have access to higher blends of ethanol, like E15, for the summer driving season. They should have E15 year-round, instead of waiting for the whims of the admin to issue a last-minute waiver.” Brown and Ernst cosponsored legislation that would make E15 available year round.

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