Thomas Gallatin / April 13, 2022

Dems Take Ethanol for Their Gas Pains

Biden is hoping that a temporary extension of 15% ethanol gas throughout the summer will lower prices at the pump.

In a bid to boost his sagging approval ratings, Joe Biden traveled to Iowa to visit an ethanol plant where he touted his administration’s plan to temporarily expand the gasoline ethanol blend to 15% throughout the summer months. Known as E15, the higher-level ethanol blend is banned during the hot summer months in an effort to mitigate the smog creation associated with the blend. But never mind that when Biden’s poll numbers are in the tank.

Biden’s goal is twofold — to be perceived as working to reduce gas prices (something caused by his own anti-fossil fuel policies), and to win support from corn farmers and ethanol producers. In other words, Biden is propping up one of the federal government’s biggest boondoggles and characterizing it as a decisive action that gives Americans “more choices and flexibility and reduces gas prices.”

Needless to say, the chief executive of the ethanol group Growth Energy, Emily Skor, who has long advocated for year-round E15, welcomed the news “for all American drivers seeking lower cost options at the pump.” She further asserted that it would lead to “a stronger rural economy.”

However, E15 is one of those issues that brings out opposition from both the fossil fuel industry and environmental groups. David DeGennaro of the National Wildlife Federation contends that ethanol “has resulted in the conversion of millions of acres of marginal croplands and wildlife habitat into corn production” through the uses of fertilizers and pesticides that add to water pollution, all while increasing the price of food. DeGennaro criticized the Biden administration for failing to invest in “sustainable strategies that don’t come at the expense of people facing food insecurity, clean water, wildlife, and the climate.”

Meanwhile, Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy at the American Petroleum Institute, argued that the Biden administration “is not focused on the real structural problems here and is attempting to find short-term fixes that don’t get at the heart of the issue.”

Biden claims drivers could save 10 cents a gallon. But further demonstrating that his action is little more than political theater is the fact that there are only about 2,300 gas stations across the country that sell E15 fuel — out of more than 150,000 gas stations nationally. In other words, relatively few Americans will even be able to access the marginally cheaper E15 blended fuel anyway.

Will Biden’s action be enough to swing voters in midwestern states like Iowa to help Democrats fend off the growing Republican red wave? Even with Biden promoting E15, it’s tough to see the Democrats doing well in a state that Donald Trump won by eight points in 2020.

What Americans are demanding are not politically designed gimmicks that do nothing to solve the underlying problems causing high gas and food prices. As long as Biden and the Democrats attempt to blame everything and everyone else while sticking to their own socialist policies that created the problems in the first place, they will have little positive impact on the economy and likely little impact on voters’ opinions.

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