Biden waives ethanol rule to cut gasoline prices

Biden waives ethanol rule to cut gasoline prices

President Joe Biden will visit corn-rich Iowa on Tuesday to announce he will suspend a federal rule prohibiting sales of higher-ethanol blend gasoline this summer, as his administration tries to squeeze pump prices that hit during Russia’s Russia crisis. war with Ukraine have risen.

Most gasoline sold in the US is blended with 10% ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency waiver to allow for the widespread sale of 15% ethanol blend, which is normally banned between June 1 and September 15 due to concerns it contributes to high-temperature smog.

Senior officials in the Biden administration said the move will save drivers an average of 10 cents a gallon at 2,300 gas stations. Industry groups say most of those stations are in the Midwest and South, including Texas.

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

The waiver is another effort to help ease global energy markets that have invaded Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. Last month, the president announced that the US will release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve over the next six months. His administration said this contributed to a slight drop in gas prices of late, after they rose to an average of about $4.23 a gallon in late March, compared to $2.87 at the same time a year ago, according to the report. AAA.

Members of Congress from both parties, as well as industry groups, had urged Biden to grant the E15 waiver.

“Homegrown biofuels in Iowa provide a quick and clean solution to lowering prices at the pump and bolstering manufacturing would help us regain energy independence,” said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. He was one of nine Republican and seven Democratic senators from Midwestern states who sent Biden a letter last month urging him to allow E15 sales year-round.

The trip will be Biden’s first as president to Iowa, where his 2020 presidential campaign stumbled to fourth in the state’s technologically glitchy caucus.

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

Biden returns to the state at a time when he faces even more political danger. He is saddled with falling approval numbers and inflation at its highest point in 40 years, while his party faces the prospect of major midterm election losses that could cost it control of Congress.

The president also planned to promote his economic plans to help rural families struggling with increased costs, while highlighting the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted last fall. The law includes money to improve internet access, modernize wastewater systems, reduce flood risk and improve roads and bridges, drinking water and electricity grids in sparsely populated areas.

“Some of it is showing up in communities of all sizes, regardless of the results of the last election,” said Jesse Harris, who was senior adviser to Biden’s 2020 Iowa campaign and led the voting and early voting efforts for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Iowa. 2008.

Harris said most presidents who visit Iowa typically go to the state’s largest cities. Hitting an area like Menlo, part of Guthrie County, which Trump supported by 35 percentage points relative to Biden in 2020, “does say the importance the government places on infrastructure in general, as well as infrastructure in rural and smaller communities.” .”

The Biden administration plans to spend billions of dollars in funding for rural areas in the coming weeks. Cabinet members and other senior officials will travel across the country to help communities access funds available as part of the infrastructure package.

“The president is not making this journey through a political prism,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “He’s making this trip because Iowa is a rural state in the country that would benefit greatly from the president’s policies.”

Still, government officials have long suggested Biden travel more to foster an economy recovering from the setbacks of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the number of Americans receiving unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since 1970.

But much of the positive job news nationally has been overshadowed by rising gas, food and housing prices that pushed consumer inflation to 7.9% over the past year ending February. That’s the sharpest spike since 1982. March inflation data, out Tuesday, is likely to bring more bad news for the Biden administration.

“Perhaps a trip back to Iowa is just what Joe Biden needs to understand what his reckless spending, big government policies are doing to our country,” Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, said in a statement.

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

Blaming the Russian war in Ukraine for helping to push up gas prices, Psaki said the government expects the consumer price index for March to be “extremely high” largely as a result.

The EPA has lifted seasonal restrictions on E15 in the past, including after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The Trump administration allowed E15 sales in the summer months two years later, but had the rule removed by a federal appeals court.

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