Biden Administration Plans To Allow Dirty E15 Gas To Be Used Year Round

The move is meant to alleviate rising gas prices, but potentially at the expense of air quality

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 01: A person prepares to pump gas at a Shell gas station on April 01, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 01: A person prepares to pump gas at a Shell gas station on April 01, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
Image: Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images (Getty Images)

The average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. is $4.09, according to AAA. That’s a nice decrease of a couple of cents, but the price isn’t falling fast enough for inflation-strapped Americans. To drop prices further, the Biden Administration is expected to announce Tuesday an emergency expansion of the use of biofuels in American gas in order to combat rising costs. The only problem? Ethanol fuel is restricted during the summer for a good reason: It’s dirtier and less efficient than traditional gas and the problem is exacerbated by sunlight and warmer temperatures.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to issue an emergency waiver that will allow E15 gas, which is normal gas with a 15 percent ethanol blend made from plant material, to be sold during the summer months when most cities are working to control smog. Such fuels can exacerbate smog pollution, which is why it’s banned in the first place. From CNN:

The sale of E15 gasoline is usually prohibited from June to mid-September because of air quality concerns. Under former President Donald Trump, the EPA issued an order allowing permanent year-round sales of the biofuel blend in 2019, but the order was overturned last year by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Biden’s announcement, a senior administration official said, “is distinct from” his predecessor’s efforts to expand ethanol sales in that it’s “based on the current circumstance, which is a fuel supply emergency.”


“The President believes that the actions of a dictator half a world away should not impact what families pay at the pump here at home,” the White House said in a fact sheet announcing the action that was shared with CNN. “Today’s actions also reinforce the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of achieving real energy independence and commitment to a long-term strategy to spur smart development and adoption of sustainable, homegrown fuels.”


Sure, Biden isn’t changing policy from some ideological belief that climate change isn’t real or that people who live in big cities should just deal with a little extra death in the name of profits, but the results are the same: dirtier air and less efficient fuel during a time when scientists are ringing ever louder alarm bells around pollution and health problems caused by particulate pollution.

The policy might lower gas this summer a whopping 10 cents per gallon, or about two bucks or so per fill up if you have a standard 18.5 gallon gas tank and you’re filling up on regular unleaded. But as the Verge points out, even those savings are suspect:

The purported costs savings with E15 are matter of debate, too. The White House fact sheet says that E15 can save consumers ten cents per gallon of gasoline, on average. But while it might be cheaper, ethanol has about a third less energy than gasoline. So costs at the pump have to be low enough to offset the slight loss in fuel efficiency that comes with a higher portion of ethanol in the fuel.

At the moment, E15 is not very popular in the US anyway. It’s sold in just 2,300 gas stations in 30 states. But that could start to change. The fact sheet distributed by the Biden administration mentions that the “EPA is also thinking about additional action to facilitate the use of E15 year-round.”

Anyway, here are the numbers you came here for in the first place:

Here are the highest average gas prices in the country in order of highest price for a gallon regular:

  • California - $5.78 Regular | $5.96 Mid | $6.09 Premium | $6.29 Diesel
  • Hawaii - $5.23 Regular | $5.43 Mid | $5.68 (nice) Premium | $5.65 Diesel
  • Nevada - $5.10 Regular | $5.34 Mid | $5.53 Premium | $5.27 Diesel
  • Alaska - $4.67 Regular | $4.84 Mid | $5.04 Premium | $5.13 Diesel
  • Washington - $4.66 Regular | $4.89 Mid | $5.07 Premium | $5.49 Diesel

Here are the lowest average prices of gasoline in the country in order of lowest price per gallon of regular:

  • Missouri - $3.65 Regular | $3.94 Mid | $4.22 Premium | $4.67 Diesel
  • Kansas - $3.67 Regular | $3.96 Mid | $4.19 Premium | $4.66 Diesel
  • Oklahoma - $3.67 Regular | $3.96 Mid | $4.18 Premium | $4.66 Diesel
  • Arkansas - $3.70 Regular | $4.02 Mid | $4.31 Premium | $4.74 Diesel
  • Texas - $3.70 Regular | $4.04 Mid | $4.35 Premium | $4.73 Diesel

I though Ethanol was already put to bed as a generally bad idea, but we’ll see if it can catch on enough to relieve pain at the pump. The Biden Administration also released one million barrels of strategic oil reserves every day starting in April to help lower costs, but prices will likely remain high as long as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.