For the second time this year, the White House is reportedly reaching out to oil producers to address skyrocketing fuel costs. In August, the Biden Administration unsuccessfully petitioned foreign oil producers at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to increase oil supplies. Now, news reports indicate the White House is hosting meetings with oil industry executives to make the same plea.
These meetings have sparked concern among clean energy advocates nationwide, - especially in the biofuel sector - in part because the oil industry has no interest in holding down prices at the fuel pump. As one oil executive told Reuters, “[a]ny call by the White House for an increase in U.S. production is likely to fall on deaf ears.” Another oil lobbyist emphasized that the Biden Administration won’t find many “friends in this sector.”
Meanwhile, despite the president’s promises, the Biden Administration continues to look past a ready solution that can provide an immediate cost-savings at the pump while also reducing carbon emissions by up to 46 percent.
Ethanol is a clean, homegrown biofuel that lowers fuel costs, increases octane, and displaces costly petroleum-based fuel additives linked to groundwater contamination, smog, and cancer. And, best of all, American renewable fuel producers and farmers are ready, willing, and able - right now - to ramp up the production of this low-carbon option to drive down fuel prices for U.S. drivers.
Ethanol saves the average household $142 per year - an average of 22 cents per gallon - with even greater savings in fuel with higher blends of ethanol, like E15 - a 15% ethanol blend. A recent study conducted by ABF Economics shows that adoption of E15 nationwide would save consumers $12.2 billion in annual fuel costs. Across the 30 states where E15 is available, it consistently sells for five to 10 cents below the price for standard blends.
On the campaign trail, President Biden emphasized the importance of “reversing harmful waivers and setting strong levels [of ethanol] for 2021” under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the opportunity to keep that promise while also driving growth in U.S. biofuel production, diversifying our energy supply, and holding down costs for consumers at the fuel pump.
The first step is issuing the long-overdue biofuel blending requirements - or Renewable Volume Obligations - for this year and the next, while rejecting oil-backed calls to roll back the volume of biofuels in our fuel supply. It’s also imperative that the White House stand with leaders across rural America who are working to ensure the continued availability of low-carbon E15 in all fuel markets year-round. And it means ensuring complete action on proposed rules that could eliminate outdated E15 labeling requirements and remove hurdles to the sale of higher blends with existing infrastructure.
At a time when both fuel costs and carbon emissions represent a clear threat to the nation’s future, American-grown, American-made biofuels are the solution. But to make it happen, the White House must send the policy signals rural America is waiting for - to boost homegrown energy and finally deliver consumers lasting protection from volatile oil markets.
Emily Skor is the CEO of Growth Energy, the nation’s largest association representing biofuel producers and supporters.
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