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Biden to Okay Year-Round Sales of Higher-Ethanol Gasoline From 2025

The Biden Administration will soon allow year-round sales of E15, gasoline with higher ethanol content, but only from 2025, to avoid potential regional spikes in gas prices ahead of the presidential election in November, sources with knowledge of the talks have told Reuters.

The Administration is prepared to approve by the end of March a request from Midwest governors – whose states are some of the battleground states in the presidential election – to allow year-round sales of E15, gasoline with 15% ethanol content.

Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an effective ban on E15 fuel sales for the summer season because it contributes to smog, but in 2022 the ban was lifted for the summer sales in an emergency waiver to lower prices at the pump.  

Back in 2022, governors of Midwest states asked the EPA in a letter to issue a regulation applying to all fuel blends containing gasoline sold and supplied in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The governors urged the EPA to issue a permanent fix and allow the sale of E15 year-round annually.

E15, or Unleaded 88, is a mix of regular gasoline and 15% ethanol, a plant-based fuel typically made from corn, and is cheaper for consumers, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said at the time.

Last month, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and seven additional Midwest renewable fuels groups asked the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the Midwest Governors’ Year-Round E15 fix, which has now been delayed for a year and a half past the legal deadline, with the final rule sitting at the OMB for over a month.

“Quick adoption of the rule will ensure that motorists do not face fewer options and higher prices at the pump this summer,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw.

The Biden Administration is inclined to approve the year-round sale of E15, Reuters sources say, but only from 2025 onwards, due to concerns that potential issues in supply logistics this year could raise the risk of regional shortages and higher gas prices just before the November election.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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