Last week, President Biden announced a ban of the importation of Russian oil and natural gas into the United States. This escalation of economic penalties against Russia will certainly have consequences internationally and at home, as American consumers brace for already skyrocketing gas prices and fuel supply disruptions.

Not only will prices at the pump continue to rise, but U.S. energy and economic security are at risk. An immediate way for the administration to provide relief at the gas pump and increase America’s energy independence, would be to use higher level blends of ethanol. Increasing the volume of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply would go a long way towards alleviating these issues, immediately. Not only is ethanol priced 70-80 cents lower per gallon than gasoline, lowering consumer prices at the pump, but the increased use of American-made ethanol supports America’s farmers and rural economies while also reducing emissions.

It is widely accepted that ethanol provides an affordable, abundant, and renewable source of high octane, low carbon motor fuel. What hasn’t been widely discussed is the fact that more ethanol means less reliance on foreign oil. In 2018, ethanol displaced 594 million barrels of crude oil. As we increase the volume of ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply, we would minimize the negative impact felt by changes in the oil markets. This is both good for our environment and for American pocketbooks.

At the pump, regular gasoline without ethanol is oftentimes priced at well over a $0.50 higher compared to fuel containing a minimum amount of ethanol. Higher blends of ethanol in high-octane fuel would allow consumers access to a high-octane fuel without the high-octane price premium we’ve historically seen.

Not to mention the needed economic boost an increased use of ethanol would give to America’s corn farmers and our rural communities. Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline in the U.S. is at least 10 percent ethanol derived from corn.

For these reasons, National Farmers Union has long advocated for the increased use of biofuels based on economic and environmental benefits. With the escalation of the Russia-Ukrainian conflict and the newly announced ban on importation, ethanol now becomes an immediate solution to an increasingly serious problem.

We are facing substantial energy security concerns and a potential energy crisis that could certainly constitute a national emergency. Using higher level blends of ethanol would be a straightforward solution to address the increasingly dire situation. These actions would ease the impact of importation bans and other market disruptions while providing substantial environmental benefits and financial support to America’s rural communities.

Rob Larew is president of the National Farmers Union, a grassroots organization representing more than 200,000 family farmers and ranchers and rural communities across the United States.

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