In his latest bid to bring down inflation and gas prices, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency waiver allowing the sale of a 15% ethanol blend in the summer months. The E15 blend is normally prohibited between June 1 and Sept. 15 because it can add to smog in hot weather.
Ethanol, a biofuel made from corn, is cheaper than gas at the moment, so a mix with more than the 10% ethanol that’s standard would bring prices down. E15 would bring gas prices down 10 cents a gallon on average, the Biden administration said, but it would only be available at about 2,300 of the nation’s 100,000 gas stations. The administration also told The Associated Press that the EPA determined the move would not have significant impact on air quality this summer.
Biden said in March he would release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic reserves through September.
“The bottom line is if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now,” Biden said at the time. “This is a moment of consequence and peril for the world, and pain at the pump for American families.”
Inflation was at 8.5% in March compared to the same time in 2021, the highest rate in 40 years, with more than half of that coming from increased gas prices. Nationwide gas averages are $4.23 gallon, compared to $2.87 at the same time a year ago, according to AAA.
Thus, even though the E15 measure will not make much of a difference for the vast majority of Americans, Biden seems intent on taking any measure within his power to bring gas prices down in the short term. Nine Republican and seven Democratic senators from the Midwest, where E15 is sold, sent Biden a letter last month urging him to allow sales year-round.