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Fuel prices reach historic high as Biden administration extends access to higher blends of ethanol

The majority of gasoline in the U.S. already contains 10% ethanol, and the source of fuel continues to be a critical aspect of the economy of many Midwestern states — including a growing part of the North Dakota economy.

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The North Dakota Corn Growers Association reports that a recent decision by the Biden administration, and subsequent EPA rule change, will extend access to higher blends of ethanol through the summer month. The result is a cost savings for North Dakotans at the gas pump.
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FARGO — For the first time in history, every state reached an average gas price above $4 per gallon resulting in a national average for gas in the United States shattering previous records at $4.86 on Monday. The average price rose 59% compared to one year ago, according to the most recent AAA data.

On March 31, 2020 the national average was $1.97 per gallon.

But a recent decision by the Biden administration aimed at extending access to higher blends of ethanol through the summer months began last week, resulting in cost savings for Americans at the gas pump, according to the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

“Driving with E15 not only saves you money when you fill your vehicle, but is a cleaner option for the environment,” Rob Hanson, North Dakota Corn Growers Association president, said. "From the corn plant storing carbon and releasing oxygen all season to less tailpipe emissions coming from your car.”

The administration’s decision comes following a 2021 court decision, the result of oil industry efforts to limit the growth of higher ethanol blends. The oil industry efforts, according to Hanson, were set to end the full-market access to fuels with a 15% ethanol blend this summer.

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The majority of gasoline in the U.S. already contains 10% ethanol, and the source of fuel continues to be a critical aspect of the economy of many Midwestern states — including a growing part of the North Dakota economy.

Ethanol has been priced at least 80 cents less per gallon less than unblended gasoline at wholesale throughout the spring of 2022, and the NDCGA claims that drivers are feeling the impact by saving up to 20 cents per gallon where E15 is available.

The NDCGA anticipate that the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement on June 3, regarding ethanol blending volume increases, will result in a national raising of ethanol blending to levels comparable with actual consumption levels across the U.S.

“American consumers are increasingly looking for relief from 40-year high inflation that continues to erode the family budget. Using higher blends of ethanol is an easy part of the equation in stretching their dollar and giving drivers more for their money,” Brenda Elmer, North Dakota Corn Growers Association executive director, said. “Homegrown ethanol is not only a better value than imported oil, but it also cuts climate emissions by 46 percent. It’s really a win-win.”

The final 2022 renewable fuel volumes were released last week by the U.S. EPA and supports access to higher blends of ethanol, according to the NDCGA.

Renewable Fuel Standard volumes of 20.63 billion gallons released in the report indicates an implied 15 billion gallons of ethanol, following the law.

The EPA also added a supplemental 250 million gallon requirement for 2022, responding to a 2017 Court decision finding EPA improperly waived past volumes. EPA finalized the delayed 2021 volume at 18.85 billion gallons, including an implied 13.79 billion gallons for ethanol, tracking retroactive renewable fuel consumption for the year.

In a separate action, the EPA finalized denial of 69 pending exemption petitions, closing the books on RFS exemptions. The NDCGA claim that this action will help restore much-needed integrity to the forward-looking volumes outlined in the report.

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