President Joe Biden on Tuesday will use his trip to an Iowa ethanol plant to allow E15 to be sold through the summer months — at least for this year.
To return E15 blends to year-round sales, EPA is planning to issue a national emergency waiver, the White House detailed Tuesday. Without the waiver, E15 is not allowed around most of the country from June 1 until Sept. 15. But EPA intends to take final action on the waiver before June 1, the White House announced.
The White House noted the emergency waiver will help increase fuel supplies and provide consumers with more choices to lower fuel prices.
“At current prices, E15 can save a family 10 cents per gallon of gas on average, and many stores sell E15 at an even greater discount. For working families — families eager to travel and visit their loved ones — that will add up to real savings,” the White House said.
Biden will travel to Menlo, Iowa, later this afternoon to make his announcement at a 150-million-gallon Poet ethanol plant. Poet is the world’s largest producer of ethanol products.
The move is the latest effort by the White House to address energy inflation and the expected announcement drew immediate praise from the biofuel industry and farm groups Tuesday.
“Corn growers thank President Biden for ensuring drivers continue to have access to a lower-cost fuel choice and for acknowledging how renewable ethanol helps reduce prices, lower emissions and improve our nation’s energy security. Farmers are proud to contribute to cleaner, less expensive fuel choices,” said Iowa farmer Chris Edgington, president of the National Corn Growers Association.
Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, a lobbying group founded by Poet CEO Jeff Broin, said, “This welcome news for all American drivers seeking lower-cost options at the pump. Lifting outdated and unnecessary summertime restrictions on E15 will ensure continued access to a fuel that has been saving drivers as much as 50 to 60 cents a gallon in recent weeks, offering working families relief at the pump at a time when they need it most.”
Skor also said she hoped the move would lead the Biden administration and Congress “to deliver a permanent fix to restore year-round access to E15 in the years ahead.”
Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also credited the Biden administration for the move. “We applaud President Biden and his administration for recognizing that low-cost, low-carbon ethanol should be given a fair opportunity to strengthen our energy security and reduce record-high pump prices,” Cooper said.
“Giving fuel retailers the freedom to offer E15 this summer will not only result in lower fuel prices for hardworking Americans, but it will also cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce tailpipe pollution linked to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and other health concerns,” Cooper said.
“As our nation copes with energy price inflation and strives to enhance energy security and diversity, we salute President Biden for turning to America’s farmers and biofuel producers for ingenuity and solutions,” he added.
E15 is offered at somewhere between 2,300 and 2,600 fuel stations nationally and is approved by EPA for more than 96% of light-duty pickups and cars on the road. Growth Energy anticipates E15 could save drivers as much as $12.2 billion in fuel costs.
The White House added EPA is considering other actions to further spur the use of E15 year-round, including continued talks with states that have already sent requests to EPA about year-round E15.
Iowa’s ties to the biofuels industry have made it the center of similar moves in the past. Before litigation quashed the initial year-round E15 rule, former President Donald Trump visited an Iowa ethanol plant in June 2019 to announce year-round sales of E15.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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