The price of gas has forced Biden to embrace the impossibility of fossil fuels

WASHINGTON – President Biden came into office with a promise to tackle the planet’s climate crisis. But rising gas prices, driven by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, have pushed the environmentally-minded president to do the impossible: an oil spill.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden traveled to Iowa, where he announced that the Environmental Protection Agency would temporarily repeal regulations banning the use of an ethanol-gasoline blend known as E15 in the summer, which contributes to smog in the summer months. Mr Biden said his government was going to waive the rule to reduce the price of petrol at the pump for many Americans.

“It’s going to help some people and I’m committed to what I can do to help, even if they have one or two extra bucks in their pockets when they meet, it will make a difference in people’s lives,” Mr Biden said after taking over. A tour of the facility that produces 150 million gallons of bioethanol a year. He later added: “When you have a choice, you have competition. When you have competition, you have good prices. ”

The ethanol declaration is Mr Biden’s latest move by the White House, which he has promised as a presidential candidate to move the United States away from fossil fuels. The price of gas, it seems, has changed. The average cost of a gallon of gas last October was 3.32; In March, it was about 32 4.32.

Last month, the president proposed a new policy aimed at pressuring oil companies to drill for unused land, saying thousands of companies were “allowed to drill if they wanted to. Why aren’t they pumping out oil?” Mr Biden announced plans to sell 180 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserves in the next six months, the largest release ever in history.

“It will provide a historic amount of supplies for the historic period,” Mr Biden said at the time.

Mr Biden has been cautious for weeks after US sanctions on Russian oil and gas pushed up fuel prices. Even as he urges oil producers to pump more crude, the president seeks to reassure his political base that meeting the needs of today’s crisis will not be distracted from the long-term goal of moving away from fossil fuels for dangerous climate change. .

The president’s embrace of oil underscores his awkward position among two competing priorities: reducing America’s use of fossil fuels and pressuring it to respond to rising gas prices.

“I don’t think when his term began Joe Biden thought he would fly to Des Moines to tap his second year of strategic petroleum reserves or approve an E15 waiver,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of political science and environmental policy. University of Michigan.

With his wider climate change agenda and investments in wind, solar and electric vehicles largely stalled in Congress, the president’s allies say his short-term, pro-oil measures could further confuse eco-centric voters who Democrats have to run for Congress. Select this autumn.

“Climate voters are likely to be frustrated without achieving a major legislation,” Mr Rabe said.

Mr Biden’s recent actions have sparked criticism in many parts of the environmental community. Mitch Jones, managing director of the lobby branch of the nonprofit group Food and Water Watch, said in a statement that the decision to lift the E15 summer ban “is driving us into the pit of a dirty fossil fuel mixture.”

White House officials oppose the idea that Mr. Biden has moved to fossil fuels. They note that its environmental policies have always envisioned continued reliance on oil and gas as the country underwent a year-round transition to cleaner energy sources.

And they say the current energy crisis is a prime example of why they believe Congress and Republicans should support moving to an alternative form of power and reducing U.S. dependence on oil.

White House spokesman Vedanta Patel said, “Families have to take their children to school and go to work, buy groceries and make a living – and sometimes they need gas today, this month and this year,” said White House spokesman Spokesperson Vedanta Patel. “But at the same time, we need to accelerate – not slow down – to transform into clean energy.”

In recent weeks, Biden administration officials have announced funding for energy-efficient homes, launching a new conservation program, and calling on the President to pass the Defense Production Act to encourage the internal extraction and processing of minerals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles.

Republicans and lobbyists for the oil and gas industry have sought to blame higher gas prices on Mr. Biden’s climate agenda, arguing that prices would fall if the White House did not implement a plan to move the country toward other types of clean energy.

“Don’t blame Putin for the price of gas,” Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican leader, told Fox News earlier this month.

He added: “This is a reaction to the closure of the fossil fuel industry. They follow them in every single conceivable way.”

But in reality, Mr. Biden has had limited success in setting his climate agenda – largely because of opposition from Republicans and the energy industry. Therefore, experts say that it is difficult to blame high gas prices for the impact of those proposals, which have not yet been implemented.

Mr Biden, for example, proposed a $ 300 billion tax incentive to galvanize the market for wind and solar power and electric vehicles. If enacted, it could reduce the country’s emissions by about 25 percent by 2030. That bill was passed in the House, but stalled in the Senate amid opposition from Republican and West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin.

Mr Biden has also sought to suspend new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, a move that has sustained oil industry losses. Yet that policy was overturned by the court, and Mr Biden auctioned off more than 80 million acres of land in the Gulf of Mexico last year – the largest lease sale in history.

Officials estimate that allowing the sale of ethanol blends in the summer would be 10 cents less per gallon of gasoline purchased from about 2,300 stations across the country that it offers and would throw the decision as a step towards “energy independence”.

It is a small percentage of the 150,000 gas stations across the country, according to the NACS, a trade association representing convenience stores.

Mr Biden is also under increasing pressure to cut energy prices, which helped drive the fastest rate of inflation since March 1981. The average for one gallon of gas on Tuesday was $ 4.10, according to the AAA.

Ethanol is made from corn and other crops and has been blended into some types of gasoline for several years to reduce its dependence on oil. But higher instability of the mixture can contribute to fog in warm weather. For that reason, environmental groups have traditionally objected to lifting the summer ban. So are oil companies, which fear that over-consumption of ethanol will reduce their sales.

How much the presence of ethanol lowers fuel prices has been the subject of debate among economists. Some experts say the decision could cut political gains more than financial ones.

David Victor, a climate policy expert at the University of California, San Diego, said it was still too small compared to the strategic petroleum reserve release. “It’s a transparent political move.”

And the environmental benefits of biofuels are diminished by the way corn and food prices rise, some energy experts argue.

Corn state lawmakers and industry leaders are urging Mr Biden to fill the void left by the US embargo on Russian oil exports using biofuels. Emily Score, CEO of Biofuel Trade Association Group Growth Energy, called the decision a “big win” for energy security.

“These are tough choices, and I don’t think it’s a choice for them,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs for the non-profit group Conservation Voter League. “I believe they are working to do this in a way that does not prevent further fossil fuel infrastructure or pollution for decades, and I think they are as determined as ever to meet the climate-related moment.”

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