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The Biden administration on Friday issued an emergency fuel waiver allowing E15 gasoline — fuel that uses a 15% ethanol blend — to be sold in the United States this summer in an effort to expand Americans’ access to affordable fuel supply amid the surge in gas prices across the nation.
The president announced earlier this month that his administration intended to issue the waiver in an effort to take action to “protect Americans from supply crises” by reducing reliance on fossil fuels, building U.S. energy independence and accelerating the transition to clean energy.
“The president is committed to doing everything he can to address the pain Americans are feeling at the pump as a result of Putin’s Price Hike and his unjustified war’s impact one global fuel supply,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday, calling the waiver a “critical step to address the fuel supply crisis.”
“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 and today’s waiver will allow families to pay that lower price for months to come,” Psaki said.
Current rules in roughly two-thirds of the U.S. mandate that E15 cannot be sold from terminals beginning on May 1, and at retail stations beginning on June 1. The Environmental Protection Agency will extend the waiver that applies to E10 gasoline to E15, which will enable E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in those areas if necessary.
E15 can already be sold year-round in parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline program.
E15 is currently offered at 2,300 gas stations in the country, where administration officials say it can serve as an “important and more affordable source of fuel.”
EPA’s emergency fuel waiver will go into effect on May when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E15 in the effected regions of the country and will last for the statutory maximum of 20 days.
“President Biden and this Administration are committed to protecting American consumers from the impacts of Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said Friday. “Putin’s war has had a profound impact on global and domestic energy markets. In consultation with Secretary Granholm, I have concluded that it is necessary to take action to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season in order to minimize and prevent disruption of summertime fuel supply to consumers.”
The White House said Friday, however, that this is “just one step the president is taking to address the fuel supply and give Americans relief from the Putin Price Hike.”
“The president has authorized the release of one million barrels per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next six months in the largest release in history as a war-time bridge, worked around-the-clock to build a coalition around the world to release an additional 60 million barrels, and is calling on Congress to make oil companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years to encourage more domestic production right now.”
Psaki added that the Biden administration has also “finalized the strongest-ever fuel economy standards for vehicles, reducing the amount of fuel families need to purchase over time and making vehicles go farther on every gallon.”
The White House has billed increasing fuel costs as “the Putin Price Hike” and has vowed to bring relief to Americans at the gas pump.
Biden announced a ban on all imports of Russian oil, gas and energy to the United States, targeting the “main artery” of Russia’s economy amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Russian oil exports account for about one-third of Europe’s oil imports, however, for the United States, Russian exports are just under 10% of U.S. overall imports.
Biden has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for high gas prices, which have risen sharply under his administration even before Russia’s invasion. Many have publicly called for him to open up oil and gas extraction in the United States to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Biden, since banning Russian oil imports, has worked with allies and partners through the International Energy Agency to authorize a historic release from petroleum reserves around the world, which the White House said will put 240 million barrels of oil on the market in the next six months — more than one million barrels per day.
Biden also called for a “use it or lose it” policy to make oil companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are holding without producing.
The White House also said Biden has put forward “concrete steps” to promote “real independence” from fossil fuels by working to accelerate the transition to clean energy.
The move, according to the White House, reinforces the Biden administration’s goal of “achieving real energy independence and commitment to a long-term strategy to spur smart development and adoption of sustainable, homegrown fuels.”