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President Biden is set to unveil plans for the sales of higher ethanol content gasoline during the summer in an attempt to restrain the price rise at the pump, Reuters has reported.
According to unnamed sources from the administration, the increased availability of 15-percent blended gasoline—known as E15—should provide some relief to American drivers during the summer season, when demand for fuels normally peaks.
The gasoline with higher ethanol content is cheaper than lower-content fuels, according to the report, but it also has lower energy density, which may compromise the savings element of the move. According to the sources, however, this should not be a problem.
Currently, 15-percent ethanol-gasoline blends are banned during the period between June 1 and September 15 because, during hotter weather, the combustion of gasoline with high ethanol content could lead to smog.
The White House proposal will be effectively a proposal to cancel the ban this year as the administration struggles to find a way to provide some price relief to drivers as inflationary pressure persists.
“The president . . . is trying to use all tools at his disposal to address the price increase resulting from Putin’s further invasion in Ukraine,” the Financial Times quoted a senior administration official as saying.
The ethanol blending ban waiver proposal follows calls on the local oil industry to boost production in an effort to tame retail fuel prices and also calls on Middle Eastern producers to boost their production.
Seeing as neither of these moves has been productive, the Biden administration resorted to the biggest release from the strategic petroleum reserve in history, amounting to 180 million barrels, to be released over a six-month period.
White House officials said the EPA would work with every state to make sure the availability of higher-ethanol content gasoline does not lead to the formation of smog.
According to the regulator, the risk of adverse effects on air quality is small given that the gasoline with higher ethanol content is sold mainly in places with better air quality, such as the Midwest, rather than coastal cities where smog is more common.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com