Washington (AP) — President Joe Biden visits corn-rich Iowa on Tuesday and bans the sale of high-ethanol petrol this summer as his administration seeks to lower prices for soaring pumps. During the war with Russia’s Ukraine, Russia announced that it would suspend federal rules.
Most gasoline sold in the United States is mixed with 10% ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency issues an emergency exemption permitting the widespread sale of 15% ethanol mixtures, which is normally banned from June 1st to September 15th, due to concerns about increasing smog at high temperatures.
Biden administration officials said the move would save drivers an average of 10 cents per gallon at 2,300 gas stations. According to industry groups, these stations are located primarily in the Midwest and South, including Texas.
Biden’s political pressure on inflation as new data on Tuesday show that prices are rising at the fastest pace in more than 40 years, in part due in part to the rise in energy prices during the war between Russia and Ukraine. This move happens because we are facing the rise of. The Ministry of Labor said on Tuesday that its consumer price index rose 8.5% in March from 12 months ago, the largest year-on-year rise since December 1981.
Government officials said the EPA has begun an analysis of the “urgent” step of increasing sales of E15 gasoline in the summer and has determined that it is unlikely to have a significant impact on ground air quality. It has long been argued by environmentalists that more ethanol in the gas causes more pollution.
Biden will announce a move at Menlo’s biofuel company west of Des Moines. Iowa is the country’s largest producer of corn, which is the key to ethanol production.
The exemption is another effort to ease the global energy market, which has been swaying since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The president announced last month that the United States will release one million barrels of oil per day from the country’s strategic petroleum reserves over the next six months. According to AAA, his administration has recently lowered gas prices slightly compared to $ 2.87 a year ago, after gas prices had risen to an average of about $ 4.23 per gallon by the end of March. Said it was helpful.
Emily Skor, CEO of the biofuels industry group Growth Energy, said in a statement, “This decision is not only a big win for American drivers and our energy security, but also cleaner pump options and rural areas. It means that the economy will be stronger. “
Parliamentarians from both parties also urged Biden to grant an E15 exemption.
“Homemade Iowa biofuels will provide a quick and clean solution to lower pump prices and boost production, making them energy-independent again,” said Senator Chuck Grassley of the Iowa Republican Party. Says. He was one of nine Republican and seven Democratic senators from the Midwestern state who sent a letter to Biden last month urging him to sell the E15 all year round.
The trip was the first Iowa president to be Biden, and the 2020 presidential election ended in fourth place in the state’s technically glitchy caucuses.
After bouncing back to win the Democratic nomination, Biden returned to the rally at the Iowa trade fair four days before the 2020 election day, but only saw Donald Trump score eight percent points for the state. was.
Biden returns to the state at the moment of facing a further political crisis. While his party faces the prospect of major midterm election losses that could sacrifice parliamentary control, he suffers from lower approval rates and the highest levels of inflation in 40 years.
The president also planned to push his economic plan to help rural families suffering from higher costs, emphasizing the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law enacted last fall. The law includes funding to improve Internet access and to modernize wastewater systems, mitigate flood threats, and improve roads and bridges, drinking water, and power networks in less populated areas. ..
“Some of them are appearing in communities of all sizes, regardless of the outcome of the last election,” said Biden’s senior adviser to the 2020 Iowa campaign, leading Barak’s voting and early voting efforts. Jesse Harris said. 2008 Obama presidential election.
Most presidents visiting Iowa usually go to the state’s largest city, Harris said. Hitting areas that supported Trump Over Biden by 35 percent in 2020, such as Menlo, which is part of Guthrie County, “not only has a broad focus on infrastructure, but also rural and small scale. It also shows that the infrastructure of the community is also important. “
The Byden administration plans to spend billions of dollars funding rural areas over the next few weeks. Ministers and other senior officials travel the country to help the community access the money available as part of the infrastructure package.
“The president hasn’t made this trip through a political prism,” said White House spokesman Jen Psaki. “Iowa is on this trip because it is a rural state in a country that greatly benefits from the president’s policies.”
Still, government officials have long suggested that Biden travel more to promote an economy recovering from the coronavirus pandemic recession. For example, the number of unemployed Americans has fallen to its lowest level since 1970.
But much of the news of positive work across the country is overshadowed by soaring gas, food and home prices that offset rising wages.
“The return to Iowa is to understand what Joe Biden is doing to our country, his reckless spending, big government policy,” Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, said in a statement. Will be needed. “
After Iowa, Biden will visit Greensboro, North Carolina on Thursday.
Mr Pusaki blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine for helping gas prices rise, saying the government expects the March consumer price index to “extremely rise” for that main reason. rice field.
The EPA has lifted E15 seasonal restrictions in the past, including after the 2017 Hurricane Harvey. The Trump administration allowed the E15 to be sold two years later in the summer, but the rule was withdrawn by the Federal Court of Appeals.
The Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
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