Joe Biden says waiving E15 summer restrictions will lower price at the gas pump

In Menlo, Iowa, Biden announced he would allow E15 to be sold during the summer months.


Grace Smith

President Joe Biden speaks during a visit at the POET Bioprocessing ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

Lauren White and Emily Delgado

MENLO, Iowa – President Joe Biden announced the Environment Protection Agency will issue a waiver to make E15 — gasoline with 15 percent ethanol blended in — available through the summer months. 

Currently, ethanol producers are required to pause the sale of E15 in the summer, but with the waiver, which will take effect June 1, consumers will be able to purchase E15 at the gas pump through the summer months. 

“Allow E15 gasoline that uses more ethanol from home grown crops can be sold across the United States this summer in order to increase fuel supply,” Biden said. 

E15 will be 10 cents cheaper than E10 fuel according to White House estimates. Biden said the price difference can add up in the Americans’ pockets. 

The waiver, Biden said, will give farmers peace of mind, support workers and jobs, reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, and will produce less greenhouse gasses than nonrenewable fuels. 

“But I’m here today because homegrown biofuels have a role to play right now as we work to get prices under control and reduce costs on your families,” Biden said. 

Biden announced the EPA waiver in his first visit to Iowa since winning the presidency. The President visited Menlo — a town of less than 400 people — to speak on his administration’s actions that benefit rural communities, specifically the role renewable fuel sources play in rural communities. 

Menlo is home to the POET Bioprocessing ethanol plant, the nation’s largest ethanol producer, where they produce over 150 million gallons of bioethanol annually. Biden said he hopes to see plants similar to POET across the midwest. 

Ethanol production leads to an increase in good paying jobs, Biden said. Jobs around the nation will be directly and indirectly supported by the biofuel production industry nationwide. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent out a press release before Biden’s trip to Iowa where he said he hopes the president will embrace homegrown biofuels and empower American workers who produce them. Grassley urged Biden to ramp up production and allow the sale of E15 to Americans. 

Decisions this year by the Biden administration have shown the president clearly favors Big Oil interests over the interest of Iowa farmers. It would be foolish for the president to continue down this path when he visits the number one biofuel producing state in the nation,” Grassley said. 

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, speaks during President Joe Biden’s visit at the POET Bioprocessing ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Axne attended the visit with Biden. (Grace Smith)

Biden was accompanied by Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, who spoke on her efforts to make renewable sources a priority in Iowa.  

​​”Investing in biofuels not only helps Iowa’s farmers and rural communities but also lessens our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and brings down prices for Iowa families,” Axne said. 

Following the start of Biden’s remarks, Iowa Democrats released a statement stating their support in the president’s efforts to support Iowa’s ethanol industry. 

Supporting Iowa’s ethanol industry not only helps our economy, but also reduces our dependence on foreign oil and gives us leverage against greedy oil corporations and Putin’s Price Hike,” Ross Wilburn, chair of Iowa Democrats wrote in a press release. 

Reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and fuel was another focus of Biden’s remarks. Biden said his plan to pull 1 million barrels of oil a day from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves for the next six months would help lower gasoline prices.

“We’re not just leaning on our reserves or allies or partners to help bring down gas prices, and to power the nation. We’re leaning on you, our farmers, our fire fuel refiners,” Biden said. 

Biden touts infrastructure

Another focus of Biden’s remarks was on infrastructure investments to aid rural communities. Iowa rates as one of the lowest states for bridge quality in the nation with over 4500 bridges in poor condition. He said the U.S. as a nation has fallen from first to eighth in the nation for infrastructure quality. 

In the 2020 election, Guthrie County, which Menlo resides in, voted for Trump with 63 percent of voters voting Republican, and 31% voted for Biden. Over the next three weeks, the President will be visiting small towns across the nation to better understand how to connect these communities with infrastructure investments that will last.

“You’re giving young people the opportunity to make a living, raise a family in a place where they were raised and where they want to stay,” Biden said. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed in Nov. 2021, which allocated $550 billion in funding for projects like roads and bridges, water, broadband, and the power grid. All of which, Biden said, benefit rural Americans.

“Look, this investment is going to help connect entire towns and regions with new opportunities. We’ve gone from waiting for infrastructure week to infrastructure decade,” Biden said. 

The investments placed in biofuels and infrastructure during his administration, Biden said, makes him optimistic about the future of the country. 

“We’re gonna build an economy around you, communities who feed into our nation. We’re gonna deal-in people in places that have been left out and left behind for a long time,” Biden said.

Renewables industry leader commends Biden

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, which represents Iowa ethanol and biodiesel producers, said in a Daily Iowan interview that offering E15 year-round will encourage retailers to expand their selections and make the cheaper gas available at more stations around the country. 

An expansion of E15 providers would cause more ethanol demand, which would increase productions at plants like POET, Shaw said. 

Shaw said the E15 is cleaner quality than other gasoline options, and while electric vehicles pick up in quantity, E15 will be a good option for those who are concerned about the environmental impact of fuel. 

“Today’s action does not require anyone to sell E15,” he said. “It doesn’t require anyone to buy E15. It just makes it a possibility. And that’s what we want, we want to compete, because with the lower cost, lower carbon fuel, we’re going to do okay.”

The Biden administration can reach rural Iowans, Shaw said, by investing in these renewable fuels. 

“We’re here today and we can help now, not just 10 years from now,” he said.


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