More Biofuels Means Lower Gas Prices

On both sides of the aisle, the message is clear: Americans need more homegrown biofuels to address rising gas prices and combat volatility in the global oil market. The ethanol industry is ready, and has the capacity to replace all Russian imports.
By Emily Skor | April 18, 2022

NOTE: This column was submitted in late March for publication in the May issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine. Three weeks later, on April 12, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. EPA to issue an emergency waiver allowing E15 to be sold through the summer 2022 driving season. The emergency action is one component of the administration's ongoing effort to reduce high fuel prices exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The EPA is expected to take official action closer to the June 1 start of the summer driving season. The White House also indicated that the EPA is considering additional action to facilitate the use of E15 year-round, including continued discussions with states that have expressed interest in allowing year-round use of E15 and considering modifications to E15 fuel pump labeling.

 At the time of the announcement, Growth Energy provided the following statement: “This is welcome news for all American drivers seeking lower cost options at the pump,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Lifting outdated and unnecessary summertime restrictions on E15 will ensure continued access to a fuel that has been saving drivers as much as 50 to 60 cents a gallon in recent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.  

 

“Not only is this decision a major win for American drivers and our nation’s energy security, it means cleaner options at the pump and a stronger rural economy,” she continued. “American biofuels like ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent compared to regular gasoline and are key to achieving the nation’s climate goals.   

 

“We are grateful to President Biden and for the support of champions like Secretary Vilsack who have helped promote American biofuels as a solution to rising gasoline prices,” Skor added. “We look forward to working with this administration and leaders in Congress to deliver a permanent fix to restore year-round access to E15 in the years ahead.”  

 

Column submitted March 24

In recent weeks, we’ve seen Russia’s war on Ukraine send uncertainty and volatility into the oil markets, causing oil prices to spike across the globe and threatening energy and economic security here at home. To offer immediate relief for American drivers at the pump and bolster American energy security, we’ve urged President Biden to turn to biofuels as a solution to high prices by increasing the volume of American-made, plant-based ethanol in the fuel supply. U.S. ethanol is trading at about a dollar less per gallon than unblended gasoline, and that discount could rise dramatically if oil prices continue to surge higher. E15 offers significant cost savings for consumers—on average up to ten cents per gallon, and in some parts of the country, up to 50 cents. Adding just five percent more ethanol to the standard E10 blend can unlock significant savings for hard-hit consumers. To reinforce higher blends’ cost savings, we recently launched a campaign, advocating for year-round E15 as a way to combat rising fuel costs and an opportunity to drive energy independence amidst the tensions in Ukraine.

Currently, retailers in 31 states across the country offer this affordable fuel, but with the returned restrictions on summertime E15 sales, this could mean fewer options at the pump, forcing consumers to pay even steeper fuel prices.

Earlier this spring, after calling on President Biden to increase access to E15 in order to address record high fuel prices, we were pleased to hear the White House reiterate that lifting the ban on summertime sales of E15 is “on the table,” and our team at Growth Energy is working to ensure that translates into action before the June 1 deadline.

We also joined industry allies in sending a letter to President Biden urging his administration to issue an emergency waiver to allow the sale of E15 during the summer driving season to ease the impact of disruptions in oil markets and skyrocketing fuel costs. Echoing our message to the White House, Senators Jon Thune (R-S.D.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) led a bipartisan letter to the president calling for increased access to higher blends of homegrown biofuels to help curb the rising energy costs and displace Russian petroleum imports.

Our champions in Iowa are calling for action too. In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, members of the Iowa congressional delegation pressed for expanded use of domestic ethanol and biodiesel to meet global energy needs, which would strengthen our national security and advance the administration’s ambitious climate goals.

On both sides of the aisle, the message is clear: Americans need more homegrown biofuels to address rising gas prices and combat volatility in the global oil market. Biofuels like ethanol are a solution that’s ready today—we have enough capacity to replace all gasoline refined from banned Russian imports. That’s why our bipartisan champions on the Hill introduced the Home Front Energy Independence Act, emphasizing the essential role that biofuels have in reducing prices at the pump.

Led by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), this legislation would make the sale of year-round E15 permanent, streamline E15 labeling, create a tax credit for higher biofuel blends, provide funding for E15 infrastructure, extend the biodiesel tax credit and ban imports of Russian petroleum products.

Even GasBuddy, a leading source on fuel costs, agrees that EPA should waive the summertime “Reid Vapor Pressure” regulations holding back the sale of E15. We can’t afford outdated summertime restrictions getting in the way of our energy security. We’ll continue to work with our allies on both sides of the aisle, and in the White House, to ensure that uninterrupted, year-round E15 remains at the top of the list of solutions for solving the energy crisis.


Author: Emily Skor
CEO, Growth Energy
202.545.4000
eskor@growthenergy.org