Editorial Roundup: Ethanol order is good for consumers, farmers

Published 8:49 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

The plan to allow more ethanol production this summer through adjustments in Environmental Protection Agency rules will add supply to the gasoline market and hold down prices that are rising rapidly due to the Ukraine war.

The EPA waiver will allow gasoline blended with 15% ethanol to be sold in the summer months between June and September. The blend has been restricted in the summer as it can create smog when temperatures rise. Most U.S. gasoline is blended with 10% ethanol.

The restriction has been lifted before in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the Trump administration had implemented the waiver two years later, but had it struck down by a federal appeals court.

The Biden administration estimated the move will lower gas prices by 10 cents per gallon at 2,300 gas stations mostly in the Midwest, near where ethanol is produced.

The move will also increase demand for corn used in making ethanol and will likely boost corn prices. It’s a win-win situation. Although, it’s not ideal to allow for the potential of more smog in American cities, the ruling is only short-term, for this summer only.

The Biden administration also earlier released 1 million barrels of oil a day from the strategic petroleum reserve to further increase supply and tamp down prices.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress had urged in a letter last week that President Joe Biden grant the waiver. Nine Republican and eight Democratic senators from Midwest states had urged Biden to allow the waiver for the entire year, but so far, he has stuck with the temporary measure.

World energy markets have been roiled with Russian’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and Biden has been up front that the sanctions on Russia including a ban on oil imports would be painful for American consumers. The administration appears to be doing everything it can to mitigate the impact on American consumers.

And polls show most Americans support the sanctions on Russia.

The temporary and interim measure to allow higher ethanol blending seems like a reasonable approach to managing the economic turmoil caused the Ukraine war.

Mankato Free Press, April 12

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