Biden waives ethanol rule to reduce gasoline prices

Politics

Senior Biden administration officials said the action would save drivers an average of 10 cents a gallon, but at just 2,300 gas stations.

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, April 11, 2022 in Washington. Carolyn Custer / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is visiting corn-rich Iowa on Tuesday to announce that he will suspend a federal rule and allow the sale of high-ethanol gasoline this summer, at the pump. trying to reduce prices, which have risen during Russian war in Ukraine,

Most of the gasoline sold in the US is mixed with 10% ethanol, The Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency exemption to allow the widespread sale of a 15% Ethanol Blend It is generally restricted between June 1 and September 15 as it increases the haze in high temperatures.

Senior Biden administration officials said the action would save drivers an average of 10 cents a gallon, but at just 2,300 gas stations. Those stations are mostly in the Midwest and South, including Texas, according to industry groups.

Biden is facing mounting political pressure over inflation, and new data on Tuesday showed prices rising at the fastest pace in more than 40 years, driven by rising energy costs during the Russo-Ukraine war. Labor Department said Consumer Price Index up 8.5 percent From 12 months earlier in March, the biggest year-on-year increase since December 1981.

Gas prices accounted for more than half of the monthly jump, and food and housing costs have also climbed in ways that can burden families. Inflation picked up last year amid strong recruitment after the passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief packageA challenge for American consumers is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine only escalated.

Administration officials said the EPA has determined that the “emergency” move to allow sales of more E15 gasoline for the summer is unlikely to have a significant impact on air quality. This is despite some environmentalists long arguing that the excess ethanol in gasoline increases pollution, especially during the hot summer months.

Biden was announcing the move to a biofuel company in Menlo, west of Des Moines. Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of corn, a key to the production of ethanol.

Discount Ease is another attempt to help global energy market who have been shaking ever since Russia invades Ukraine, Last month, the president announced that the US would release 1 million barrels of oil from per day country’s strategic petroleum reserve in the next six months. According to AAA, his administration recently helped ease gas prices slightly, after climbing to an average of $4.23 a gallon by the end of March, compared to $2.87 at the same time a year ago, according to AAA. in comparison.

“This decision is not only a huge win for American drivers and our nation’s energy security, it also means cleaner options at the pump and a stronger rural economy,” said Emily Schorr, CEO of the biofuel trade association group Growth Energy, in a statement.

Members of Congress from both parties also urged Biden to grant the E15 exemption.

“Domestic Iowa biofuels provide a quick and clean solution to reduce prices at the pump, and boost production will help us become energy independent once again,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. He was among nine Republican and seven Democratic senators from Midwestern states who sent Biden a letter last month urging him to allow E15 sales throughout the year.

The visit will be Biden’s first as president of Iowa, where his 2020 presidential campaign finished fourth in the state’s caucus.

After bouncing back to win the Democratic nomination, Biden returned for a rally at the Iowa State Fair Grounds four days before Election Day 2020, only to see Donald Trump win the state by 8 percentage points.

Biden heads back to the state at a time when he is facing further political crisis. she is sad sagging approval rating And Inflation at 40-year high while his party There is a possibility of big losses in the mid-term elections. Which can spend it under the control of Congress.

The president also plans to boost his economic plans to help rural households and highlight the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law he enacted last fall. That legislation includes funding to improve Internet access, as well as modernizing wastewater systems, reducing flood hazards and improving roads and bridges, drinking water and electricity grids in sparsely populated areas.

“Part of it is visible in communities of all sizes, regardless of the results of the last election,” said Jesse Harris, senior adviser to Biden’s 2020 campaign in Iowa. Directed early voting efforts for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008.

Administration officials have long suggested that Biden travel more to boost an economy that is recovering from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

But most of the positive job news nationally has been fueled by rising gas, food and housing prices, which have eroded wage benefits.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufman took no action in criticizing Biden for his handling of the economy and inflation. But, he said, the temporary move on ethanol was the right one.

“First of all, let me say that this is a good thing. All a good thing. It would have been nice if he had done it earlier,” Kaufman said. “Am I happy with this exemption? Yes I am Is this enough? No.”

High inflation also poses a threat to Biden’s broader domestic agenda, which the White House hoped would be a stark contrast with Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia issued a statement saying that the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve had failed to “act quickly enough” to curb costs to the American people and that the problem of high prices predated the invasion of Ukraine. Is.

“It is a disservice to the American people for inflation to act as a new phenomenon,” Manchin said in a release.

Manchin, whose protests ruined Biden’s 10-year, nearly $2 trillion measure in December, had recently returned to the negotiating table with the White House. Manchin has said that any new package should include provisions for reduction of deficit and control of inflation. It is not clear how the new inflation data will affect the state of those talks.

After Iowa, Biden will visit Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday.

The EPA has previously lifted seasonal restrictions on E15, including the latter Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The Trump administration did so two years later in the summer, but that action was overturned by a federal appeals court.

A group representing petroleum refiners criticized Biden’s decision, saying the only emergency was his falling voter figures.

“We want to see relief for consumers at the pump, but an illegal executive order is not how to address the problem,” said Chet Thompson, president and CEO of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.

Associated Press writers Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa and Farnoush Amiri and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

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