In an effort to drive down gas prices and support rural America, President Joe Biden announced waiving the summertime ban on E15 fuel while he visited POET Bioprocessing, an ethanol plant outside of Menlo on Tuesday.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue an emergency waiver to make E15 fuel available this summer, which has previously been banned under the Clean Air Act because of concerns about air pollution.
“With this waiver, on June 1, you’re not going to show up at your local gas station and see a bag over the pump that has the cheapest gas you’re going to be able to keep filling up with E15,” Biden said. “And it’s not going to solve all our problems but it’s going to help some people. I’m committed to whatever I can to help. Even if it’s an extra buck or two in the pockets when they fill up will make a difference in people’s lives.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a press release in response to the news and thanked Biden and his administration for making the move.
“Thank you to the Biden Administration for this very welcome news. While there is more to be done from the Administration to address high energy and fuel prices, unrestricted access to E15 is a great first step,” it read.
In the midst of historic inflation—8.5%—and high gas prices nationwide, Biden announced this change as an effort toward lowering gas prices.
E15 is cheaper than regular gas by 50-60 cents a gallon. The administration estimates this release will make prices 10 cents cheaper.
“We are grateful to President Biden and for the support of champions like Sec. [Tom] Vilsack who have helped promote American biofuels as a solution to rising gasoline prices,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor in a statement.
The fuel grade is available in 31 states and is approved for most light-duty vehicles. Estimates suggested E15 could save people $12.2 billion annually.
Biden wasn’t only interested in lowering costs though. He emphasized how biofuels are crucial to America’s future but are also important for this moment. Biden wants to bring farmers in to help reduce prices and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 by investing in biofuel production and infrastructure.
“It creates good-paying jobs. It’s estimated there are over 400,000 jobs directly or indirectly supported by this industry nationwide,” he said. “There’s a lot of people and a lot of paychecks—good, decent paychecks.”
Biden tied the problem of rising fuel costs to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how that has affected the global market. Biden ordered the release of a million barrels of oil a day from America’s strategic reserve over the next six months. Releasing biofuels for longer use would further help people at the pumps by giving them a choice, he said.
Biden said he’d worked with other world leaders on measures to bring down prices, but he also wants to rely on American farmers.
“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” Biden said.
Which is part of the reason why he was so adamant the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act be passed since rural areas and America’s economy rely on good roads and bridges. Locks and dams on waterways are also crucial for shipping and other trade.
Biden said he’s optimistic about the future because of the way America has been able to bounce back from crises, including the most recent with COVID-19.
“That’s why I’m optimistic,” he said. “Because I see a future that’s within our grasp.”