Did Biden Make the Right Move in Adding Ethanol in Gas?

President Biden announced the country’s restrictions on E15 will be lifted for the 2022 summer driving season. Hoosier AG

President Biden announced the country’s restrictions on E15 will be lifted for the 2022 summer driving season. Hoosier AG

Maddie Zimmerman, Co-Editor in Chief

This past week, President Biden announced a plan to suspend a ban on summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends, a move that White House officials said was aimed at reducing gas prices. The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a waiver that would allow the blend known as E15 — which is made of 15 percent ethanol — to be used between June 1 and Sept. 15. The White House estimated that approximately 2,300 stations in the country offer the blend and cast the decision as a move toward “energy independence.”
“E15 is about 10 cents a gallon cheaper,” Mr. Biden said, speaking after taking a tour of a production facility that produces 150 million gallons of bioethanol annually. “And some gas stations offer an even bigger discount than that.” “When you have a choice, you have competition,” Mr. Biden added. “When you have competition, you have better prices.”

A gas pump cheerily advertises E15 gas, which it clarifies contains “up to 15% ethanol.”
Via: Reuters, Jim Young

The decision to lift the summertime ban comes as Mr. Biden faces growing pressure to bring down energy prices, which helped drive the fastest rate of inflation since 1981 in March. A gallon of gas was averaging $4.10 on Tuesday, according to AAA. Last month, the president announced a plan to release one million barrels of oil a day from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months.
Ethanol is made from corn and other crops and has been mixed into some types of gasoline for years as a way to reduce reliance on oil. But the blend’s higher volatility can contribute to smog in warmer weather. For that reason, environmental groups have traditionally objected to lifting the summertime ban, as have oil companies, which fear greater use of ethanol will cut into their sales.
Lawmakers in corn-producing states have been urging Mr. Biden to use biofuels to fill the gap created by the United States ban on importing Russian oil.
Oil refiners are required to blend some ethanol into gasoline under a pair of laws, passed in 2005 and 2007, intended to reduce the use of oil and the creation of greenhouse gases by mandating increased levels of ethanol in the nation’s fuel mix every year. However, since passage of the 2007 law, the mandate has been met with criticism that it has contributed to increased fuel prices and has done little to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
Although ethanol and ethanol-gasoline mixtures burn cleaner and have higher octane levels than pure gasoline, they also have higher evaporative emissions from fuel tanks and dispensing equipment. These evaporative emissions contribute to the formation of harmful, ground-level ozone and smog. All of this is a negative for parts of the country that already have high ozone levels. Additionally, Too much ethanol in these tools can
cause corrosion and damage from overheating. Small-engine equipment is not designed to handle high ethanol-based gasoline. For example, E15 burns much hotter than E10 and may cause small engines to overheat.
Raising it to 15 percent, as President Biden has proposed, would do incredible harm in so many ways, from raising food prices to harming the environment to ruining many gasoline engines. It is not a move we can afford, now or later.
Discussing this matter with Wheeler students, there seemed to be one common consensus. Most, if not all, students agreed that increasing ethanol in gas seems to be a good idea on the surface, but when you look at the bigger picture, it is not the right choice to make.
Senior Abby Foy stated, “I don’t think adding ethanol to gas is good in the long run, because not only will it affect the ozone it will affect our cars.”
Junior Catie Crow “At an environmental standpoint, adding ethanol to gas will cause the ozone to deteriorate, which is obviously not good.”
Junior Aryan Chadha “I think that increasing the ethanol and decreasing gas prices will not really affect Biden’s approval rating in the long run as people already have formed opinions on him as our president.”