Lawmakers weigh in on whether biofuels can replace Russian oil imports ahead of Biden's E15 gasoline ban lift

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Bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday praised President Biden's move to lift a summer ban on the sale of E15 gasoline as a way to alleviate some pain at the pump.

Biden travels to Iowa Tuesday as his administration announced a waiver to allow E15 gasoline—gasoline that uses a 15% ethanol blend—to be sold from June 1 to Sept. 15. The move is designed to expand U.S. access to affordable fuel supply options after gas prices hit historic highs following soaring inflation and Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. 

Both of Iowa's GOP senators welcomed the news of more sales of biofuels.


"Since early last year, Senator (Chuck) Grassley and I have been pushing this administration to lift the ban on E15 by the summer driving season – and at long last, the president has relented," Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in statement to Fox News Digital. "Home grown ethanol is a cleaner, cheaper choice for consumers, and Iowa’s biofuel producers are ready to meet the demand. This announcement is certainly welcome news for Iowans."

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 27: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) speaks alongside other Republican Senators during a press conference on rising gas an energy prices at the U.S. Capitol on October 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Republicans are placing blame on the Bi (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Iowa GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson has been pushing legislation in House to allow for the year-round sale of E15 and previously called for the nationwide waiver for this summer. 

"I’m glad the Administration will permit the sale of E-15 this summer—a commonsense solution I have long been calling for President Biden to put in place," Hinson said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "I hope this is the first of many steps that the Biden Administration takes to address the energy affordability crisis they’ve created by sidelining our domestic resources."

She added: "Iowa biofuels should be front and center in an all-of-the above energy strategy that will bring costs down, bolster our fuel supply, and restore American energy independence."

UNITED STATES – AUGUST 15: Iowa State Rep. Ashley Hinson speaks with CQ Roll Call at the Iowa State Fair’s Pork Tent on August 15, 2019 (Photo by Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call). (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call / Getty Images)

Back in March, 16 bipartisan senators wrote to Biden urging him to permit the sale of E15 over the summer as a way to curb rising domestic energy costs and displace banned Russian oil imports. 

The sale of readily available American biofuels can provide "energy security for consumers and show that the United States is committed to lessening our dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy," the seven Democrats and nine GOP senators wrote the president. 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks after the cloture vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General, on Capitol Hill in Washington April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (REUTERS)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was among the senators who signed the letter. 

"Increasing home-grown cleaner fuel from American producers will help lower costs at the pump for everyone," Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a statement to Fox News Digital Tuesday. "President Biden is taking on Putin’s price hike by tapping into American energy technology with biofuels our farmers make right here at home."

The top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. John Boozman, cast blame on Biden for the high gas prices, citing his decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and ban new energy development on federal lands. But we welcomed the E15 decision a positive step forward. 

"It’s long overdue for the Biden administration to pursue increasing domestic sources of energy," Boozman, R-Ark., said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "America’s farmers are proud to help meet our energy needs, and they have been asking Washington to let them do more to help address the ongoing food and energy security challenges facing the world."

The average price of a regular gallon of gas in the United States is currently $4.098 – down from a high of $4.331 that was set on March 11, according to AAA. Gas prices have been falling as the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Germany, and Canada have announced the release of millions of barrels of crude oil from emergency oil stockpiles.

The historically high gas prices come as inflation hits a 40-year high.


The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index – which measures a bevy of goods including gasoline, health care, groceries and rents – rose 8.5% in March from a year ago, the fastest pace since December 1981, when inflation hit 8.9%. Prices jumped 1.2% in the one-month period from February, the largest month-to-month jump since 2005.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a meeting on infrastructure with labor and business leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 22, 2021.  (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  / Reuters)

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.2% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 8.5% before seasonal adjustment.


Senator Deb Fischer, R-Neb., welcomed Biden's announcement and urged him to make it permanent. 

"I have long led the push for the sale of year round E15 because it will help lower prices for families at the gas pump," Fischer said in a statement. "If President Biden is serious about driving down costs for Americans, he should allow the sale of E15 during the summer, throughout the energy crisis and beyond. Doing so would be good for families, the environment, and rural America."

In this April 8, 2014, file photo, Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to issue a national, emergency waiver to allow the sale of E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15.  The Biden administration said the move will help increase fuel supplies and offer savings to American families.

At current prices, E15 can save a family 10 cents per gallon of gas on average, according to the White House.

Fox News' Kelly Laco, Brooke Singman and Megan Henney contributed to this report. 

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