WASHINGTON – President Biden has vowed to tackle the planet’s climate crisis. But rising gas prices, driven by Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, have pushed an environmentally minded president to do the impossible: embrace oil.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden flew to Iowa, where he announced that the Environmental Protection Agency would temporarily remove regulations banning the use of ethanol-petrol compound called E15 in the summer, which contributes to smog during the warmer months. In order to reduce the price of pumped petrol for many Americans, his government is going to waive the regulation. Biden said.
“It’s going to help some people, and I’m committed to doing what I can, even if they have a rupee or two extra money in their pocket when they are full, it can make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. Biden said taking. A tour of a facility that produces 150 million gallons of bioethanol a year. He later said: “When you have a choice, you have competition. When you have competition, you get the best price.
Ethanol announcement Mr. The latest move by Biden is the latest move by the White House to oppose his promises to exclude the United States from fossil fuels as a presidential candidate. The price of gas seems to have changed his account. The average price of a gallon of gas last October was $ 3.32; In March, it was about $ 4.32.
Last month, the president proposed a new policy aimed at putting pressure on oil companies to drill for oil on unused land, allowing thousands of companies to “drill for oil. Why don’t they pump oil?” Mr Biden also announced the sale of 180 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserves over the next six months, the largest release ever in history.
“It will provide a historic scale distribution for a historic period,” Mr. Biden said.
Since US sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas have pushed up energy prices, Mr. While he called on oil producers to pay more crude, the president sought to reassure his political base that meeting the needs of today’s crisis would not detract from the long-term goal of moving away from fossil fuels that could cause dangerous climate change. .
The president’s embrace of oil underscores his poor position between two competing priorities: the compulsion to reduce U.S. use of fossil fuels and the pressure to respond to rising gas prices.
“When Joe Biden began his term, he did not think he would fly to Des Moines for his second year tapping into strategic oil reserves or approving E15 discounts,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of political science and environmental policy. University of Michigan.
With his broad-based climate change agenda and investments in wind, solar and electric vehicles largely stalled in Congress, presidential allies say his short-term, pro-oil actions could further frustrate the eco-centric electorate. This fall election.
“Apart from a major legislative achievement, climate voters are likely to be low,” he said. Rabbi said.
Mr. Biden’s recent actions have provoked criticism in many parts of the environmental community. Mitch Jones, executive policy director of the campaigning arm of the non-profit group Food & Water Watch, said in a statement that the decision to lift the summer ban on the E15 “plunges us deeper into the hole of dirty fossil fuel compounds.”
White House officials said Mr. Biden rejected the notion of embracing fossil fuels. His environmental policies have always imagined a continued reliance on oil and gas, while the country shifts to clean energy sources.
He said the current energy crisis was a stark example of why Congress and Republicans believe they should support the move to alternative energy forms and reduce US dependence on oil.
“Families have to take their children to school and go to work, pick up groceries and go about their lives – sometimes today, this month and this year they need gas,” White House spokesman Vedant Patel said. “But at the same time we need to accelerate – not slow down – our transition to clean energy.”
In recent weeks, Biden executives have announced funding to make homes more energy efficient, launch new security plans and say the president will implement the Defense Production Act to promote the extraction and processing of minerals needed locally to make batteries for electric vehicles.
Republicans and campaigners for the oil and gas industry, Mr. They sought to downplay high gas prices on Biden’s climate agenda, arguing that prices would be lower if the White House did not pursue plans aimed at moving the country towards other clean energy.
“Don’t blame Putin for the gas price,” Republican leader Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell told Fox News earlier this month.
He added: “This is a reaction to the shutdown of the fossil fuel industry. They follow them in every way they can think.
But really, Mr. Biden has had limited success in implementing his climate agenda – largely due to opposition from Republicans and the Department of Energy. Experts say it is therefore difficult to blame the rise in gas prices on the consequences of those proposals that have not yet been enacted.
For example, Mr. Biden proposed $ 300 billion in tax breaks to improve markets for wind and solar power and electric vehicles. If passed, it could reduce the country’s emissions by about 25 percent by 2030. The bill passed the House, but stalled in the Senate amid opposition from Republicans and Democrat Senator Joe Munchin of West Virginia.
Mr. Biden sought to suspend new oil and gas leases on federal lands and aquifers, which affected the oil industry’s output. Nevertheless, that policy was upheld by the courts and Mr. Biden auctioned more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico last year – the largest lease sale in history.
Officials estimate that allowing the ethanol blend to be sold in the summer will result in a 10 cent reduction for every gallon of petrol purchased at the approximately 2,300 stations in the country where it is supplied, and this decision could move toward “energy independence.”
This is a small percentage of the 150,000 gas stations across the country, which, according to the NACS, is a trade association representing convenience stores.
Mr. Biden also faces growing pressure to reduce energy prices, which helped accelerate inflation since March 1981. A gallon of gas averaged $ 4.10 on Tuesday, according to the AAA.
Ethanol is made from corn and other crops and has been blended into certain types of gasoline for many years to reduce oil dependence. But the high instability of the mixture will contribute to the haze in hot weather. For that reason, environmental groups have traditionally opposed the removal of the summer ban. Make oil companies fear that their sales will decline if they use too much ethanol.
The extent to which the presence of ethanol reduces fuel prices is a matter of debate among economists. Some experts said the decision could reap greater political benefits than funding.
David Victor, a climate policy expert at the University of California, San Diego, said: “This is still very small compared to the release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It is a very transparent political move.”
The environmental benefits of biofuels are reduced by raising the prices of corn and food, some energy experts argue.
Corn State lawmakers and industry leaders Mr. They are urging the United States to fill the gap left by Russia’s oil exports with biofuels. Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, a group of biofuels trade associations, called the decision on energy conservation “a great success.”
“These are tough choices and I do not think they’ve tasted anything,” said Tyrone Sidenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, a non-profit group. “I believe they have been working to do that for decades without locking up fossil fuel infrastructure or pollution, and I think they are always determined to meet the climate moment.”
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