The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will issue an emergency waiver that will allow for the legal, year-round sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.
The move to allow for the year-round sale of E15 fuel was announced by President Biden ahead of a planned visit to the corn-concentrated state of Iowa on Tuesday. The sale of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol is typically outlawed between June 1st and September 15th of the calendar year due to concerns that it contributes to localized smog, however the Biden Administration has decided to temporarily do away with this law in an attempt to lower fuel prices.
The EPA issued an order in 2019 under former President Donald Trump that would have permitted the year-round sale of E15, however this decision was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals last summer. A senior administration official told CNN that Biden’s decision differs from Trump’s as it is “based on the current circumstance, which is a fuel supply emergency.” The White House estimates that allowing for E15 fuel to be sold throughout the summer will lower gas prices by about 10 cents per gallon on average.
“The President believes that the actions of a dictator half a world away should not impact what families pay at the pump here at home,” the White House said in a fact sheet that was distributed to media on Tuesday. “Today’s actions also reinforce the Biden-Harris 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.”
A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February found that ethanol mix fuels are at least 24 percent more carbon-intensive than gasoline as a result of the land use changes required to grow the corn, as well as the processing of the fuel and its combustion. The findings from the study prompted its lead author, Dr. Tyler Lark, assistant scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, to proclaim that ethanol is “not a climate-friendly fuel.”
It should be noted that the E15 fuel mix mentioned in the EPA’s new waiver contains 15 percent ethanol. This is not to be confused with E85, another commonly used fuel type that contains 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.