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Gasoline Prices Drop as Biden Takes Further Steps

Woman refueling her car at a gas station.

Image source: Getty Images

Three weeks ago, the average price of regular-grade gasoline nationwide hit $4.17 per gallon. Today, it's down to $4.02. Still, considering the last time gas was this high was during the George W. Bush administration, the price of gas is causing legitimate pain.

Last week, the Biden administration issued an emergency fuel waiver to combat the high price of gas. This waiver allows E15 gasoline -- fuel made with a 15% ethanol blend -- to be sold in the United States. As part of the president's effort to make gasoline more affordable, the waiver goes into effect this summer.

The plan is bigger than expensive gasoline

President Biden announced in April that his administration wants to protect Americans from supply crises by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Biden also plans to speed up the transition to clean energy.

According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, "The president is committed to doing everything he can to address the pain Americans are feeling at the pump as a result of Putin's Price Hike and his unjustified war's impact on the global fuel supply."

In other words, the bigger plan includes transitioning to energy sources that are far less likely to be impacted by wars and other geopolitical circumstances. Creating our own energy means another country cannot raise prices in retaliation or otherwise damage the American economy. It also provides the U.S. with a way to leverage negotiations rather than go to war.

The savings

Allowing E15 gasoline can save a driver $0.05 to $0.10 per gallon on average. And according to Psaki, many gas stations sell E15 at an even deeper discount. The hope is that Americans will pay less at the gas pump for months to come.

E15 gasoline is already offered at 2,300 stations around the U.S. The president's waiver simply extends the right to sell E15 to all stations.

The trouble with Russia

Currently, Russian oil exports account for somewhere around 8% of all oil imported to the U.S. While that does not sound like much, taking Russian oil out of our supply line has a ripple effect, scaring investors and driving prices through the roof.

Because of Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine and the subsequent murder of thousands of Ukrainians, President Biden announced a ban on all imports of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal imports. According to Biden, the goal is to target the main artery of the Russian economy.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan explained, "Putin's war has had a profound impact on global and domestic energy markets. In consultation with Secretary (Jennifer) Granholm, I have concluded that it is necessary to take action to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season in order to minimize and prevent disruption of summertime fuel supply to consumers."

Moving forward

Biden has authorized the release of 1 million E15 barrels each day for at least six months. As that fuel is funneled from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the administration is also calling on Congress to force U.S. oil companies to pay fees on unused wells located on public land.

Oil companies have held on to these wells for years without producing any much-needed gasoline. If the president gets his way, all fees paid will be used to create more domestic production of fuel.

At the same time, the president has finalized the "strongest-ever fuel economy standards for vehicles," further cutting down on the amount of gasoline we depend on to get around.

A long-term issue

While the current price of gasoline constitutes an immediate problem in the U.S., the question of whether we are willing to continue our dependence on other countries to meet our fuel needs is being hotly debated in Washington, D.C.

Ideally, lawmakers can put politics aside long enough to accomplish a more sustainable system. Doing so may just allow Americans to keep more money in the bank.

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