(The Hill) – President Joe Biden formally announced a waiver on Tuesday that will allow the sale of fuel with higher ethanol content to be sold during the summer months, an action he said would help lower soaring gas prices.
Current regulations prevent the fuel from being sold between June and September due to concerns about its effect on smog and other forms of air pollution.
Advocates have said the regulations in question were written for fuels that are 10% ethanol rather than so-called E15, which is 15% ethanol.
Administration officials, announcing the decision Monday night, projected it would save the average family 10 cents a gallon, a figure Biden also cited in his remarks Tuesday afternoon.
“Home grown biofuels have a role to play right now … as we work to get prices under control and reduce the costs for families,” the president said in Iowa on Tuesday, during a speech at POET Bioprocessing in Menlo, next to a giant pile of cornmeal.
In his remarks, Biden emphasized the role of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in energy costs, blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the recent surge in energy prices.
“I’m doing everything within my power by executive orders to bring down the price and address the Putin price hike,” the president said.
“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” he said, also describing Putin’s actions as “genocide” for the first time.
Biden appeared at the event alongside Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who is among vulnerable Democrats in Congress in the impending midterm election cycle.
The speech represented the latest effort by the Biden administration to address growing concerns about inflation and heightened gas prices in particular.
Fuel prices, already spiking earlier this year, have ballooned further as Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted the global market. Gas prices averaged about $4.10 per gallon nationwide as of Tuesday, according to AAA.
Labor Department data released Tuesday showed consumer prices rose 1.2% in March and 8.5% over the past year.
Polls show the American public increasingly concerned about high consumer prices.
Biden on Tuesday highlighted other actions his administration has taken, including the largest-ever release from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve he announced last month.
The president framed the waiver announced Tuesday as a “made in America” solution to the crisis, citing its potential to both support agricultural economies and reduce reliance on foreign oil.
“It gives you a choice at the pump — when you have a choice, you have competition, when you have competition, you get better prices,” he said. “This is an industry with a tremendous future.”
Biden also said increased use of such fuels was vital to achieving the administration’s goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury. Ethanol is made from corn and has been mixed into fuel as a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
“You simply can’t get to net-zero by 2050 without biofuels,” he said.