Latest: Biden to End an Unpopular Fuel Ban in Eight Farm States

The Biden administration will permanently lift a ban on summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends in eight states starting in 2025, in response to a request from Midwestern governors who want year-round sales of the corn-based fuel.

The election-year decision by the Environmental Protection Agency comes after the governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas and North and South Dakota wrote to President Biden saying that the summertime ban on gasoline blended with ethanol, also called E15, causes economic harm in their states and has little environmental benefit. Minnesota and Wisconsin are important swing states in the upcoming presidential election.

Ethanol is made from corn and other crops and has been mixed into some types of gasoline for years as a way to reduce reliance on oil. While the blend releases fewer greenhouse gases when burned than straight gasoline, it can contribute to smog in warmer weather, and there has been a ban on summertime sales of the fuel since 2011.

Agriculture groups and state lawmakers have long pushed to end the ban, while environmental organizations have insisted on the importance of keeping it in place. Oil producers and refineries have also supported the ban, since ethanol cuts into the consumption of gasoline.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have granted one-time waivers allowing summertime sales of E15. Mr. Biden allowed sales in 2022, as did former President Donald J. Trump in 2019.

In permanently lifting the summertime ban in the eight states, the E.P.A. first required the states to demonstrate that the move would not result in an increase in smog.

In a statement, an E.P.A. spokesman said that those assessments had concluded that lifting the summertime ban would actually lead to a small decrease in some emissions that cause smog.

“Overall, the emissions implications of this change are small,” the agency spokesman, Nick Conger, said.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, praised the move. “Using higher ethanol blends in our gasoline is good for our farmers, our economy, and our national security,” she said. “I will continue working to expand the year-round use of sustainable fuels across the nation.”

The ethanol industry also applauded the change, although some complained about the implementation taking place in 2025 instead of this summer as the governors had requested.

“Why should ethanol producers, farmers, fuel retailers, and consumers in these states be penalized for E.P.A.’s foot-dragging and failure to meet a clear deadline?” said Geoff Cooper, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, which lobbies for ethanol producers in Washington.

Oil companies also criticized the move. “We are concerned this piecemeal approach could weaken the resiliency of the region’s fuel supply chain,” said Will Hupman, a vice president at the American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil companies.

Oil refiners are required to blend some ethanol into gasoline under a pair of laws, passed in 2005 and 2007, intended to reduce the use of oil and its associated greenhouse gases. But the mandate has been met with criticism that it has contributed to increased fuel prices and has done little to reduce the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.

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