WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – President Joe Biden is visiting corn-rich Iowa on Tuesday to announce that he will suspend a federal rule preventing the sale of high-ethanol blend gasoline this summer, as his administration Tries to reduce prices at the pump. During Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Most gasoline sold in the US is blended with 10% ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency exemption to allow widespread sale of the 15% ethanol blend, which is usually prohibited between June 1 and September 15 because it adds to the haze in high temperatures.
Senior Biden administration officials said the move would save drivers an average of 10 cents a gallon at 2,300 gas stations. Those stations are mostly in the Midwest and South, including Texas, according to industry groups.
Biden’s remarks are scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. EST. Watch in the live player above.
The move comes as Biden faces mounting political pressure over inflation, as new data on Tuesday showed prices rising at the fastest pace in more than 40 years, triggered by the Russo-Ukraine war on energy. driven by the increase in prices. The Labor Department said Tuesday that its consumer price index jumped 8.5% in March from 12 months ago, its biggest year-on-year increase since December 1981.
Administration officials said the EPA has begun to analyze the “emergency” move to allow sales of more E15 gasoline for the summer and determined it is unlikely to have a significant impact on air quality on the ground. Is. Despite some environmentalists long arguing that the excess ethanol in the gas increases pollution.
Biden is to announce the move to a biofuels company in Menlo, west of Des Moines. Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of corn, a key to the production of ethanol.
The waiver is another effort to help ease global energy markets that have been shaken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Last month, the president announced that the US would release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months. According to AAA, his administration recently helped ease gas prices slightly, after climbing to an average of $4.23 a gallon by the end of March, compared to $2.87 at the same time a year ago, according to AAA. in comparison.
Read more: Russia’s war in Ukraine disrupts food prices and supplies around the world
“This decision is not only a huge win for American drivers and our nation’s energy security, it also means cleaner options at the pump and a stronger rural economy,” said Emily Schorr, CEO of the biofuel trade association group Growth Energy, in a statement.
Members of Congress from both parties also urged Biden to grant the E15 exemption.
“Domestic Iowa biofuels provide a quick and clean solution to reduce prices at the pump and boost production will help us become energy independent once again,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. He was among nine Republican and seven Democratic senators from Midwestern states who sent Biden a letter last month urging him to allow E15 sales throughout the year.
The visit will be Iowa’s first time as president, where his 2020 presidential campaign finished fourth in the state’s technically messed-up caucus.
After bouncing back to win the Democratic nomination, Biden returned for a rally at the Iowa State Fair Grounds four days before Election Day 2020, only to see Donald Trump win the state by 8 percentage points.
Biden heads back to the state at a time when he is facing further political crisis. He is saddled with approval ratings and inflation at a 40-year high, while his party faces the prospect of big mid-term election losses, taking control of the Congress.
The president also plans to boost his economic plans to help rural households battling high costs, while also highlighting a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law last fall. The legislation includes funding to improve Internet access, as well as modernizing wastewater systems, reducing flood hazards and improving roads and bridges, drinking water and electricity grids in sparsely populated areas.
“Part of it is visible in communities of all sizes, regardless of the results of the last election,” said Jesse Harris, senior adviser to Biden’s 2020 campaign in Iowa. Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Harris said most presidents visiting Iowa usually visit the state’s largest cities. Hitting an area like Menlo, the part of Guthrie County that supported Trump by 35 percentage points over Biden in 2020, “speaks primarily about the administration’s importance not on infrastructure, but on infrastructure in rural and small communities.” as well.”
The Biden administration plans to spend billions of dollars in funding for rural areas in the coming weeks. Cabinet members and other senior officials will travel the country to help communities gain access to funds available as part of the infrastructure package.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “The president is not approaching this visit through a political lens.” “He’s making this trip because Iowa is a rural state in the country that would benefit greatly from the president’s policies.”
Still, administration officials have long suggested that Biden travel more to boost an economy that is recovering from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the number of Americans collecting unemployment has fallen to the lowest level since 1970.
But most of the positive job news nationally has been fueled by rising gas, food and housing prices, which have eroded wage benefits.
“Maybe a trip to Iowa will be what Joe Biden needs to understand what his reckless spending, big government policies are doing to our country,” Iowa Republican Party President Jeff Kaufman said in a statement.
After Iowa, Biden will visit Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday.
Saki blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine for helping push gas prices up and said the administration expects the consumer price index for March to be “extremely high” in large part because of this.
The EPA has previously lifted seasonal restrictions on E15, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The Trump administration allowed the E15 to be sold in the summer months two years later, but a federal appeals court overturned the rule.