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Economy

US Decision on Alaska Wilderness: Restrictions on Drilling and Mining Draw State Ire

US Decision on Alaska
Members of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 protest on Feb. 10, 2023, in front of the Alaska State Capitol in Ju... Members of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 protest on Feb. 10, 2023, in front of the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
US Decision on Alaska
Members of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 protest on Feb. 10, 2023, in front of the Alaska State Capitol in Ju... Members of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 protest on Feb. 10, 2023, in front of the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

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U.S. Decision on Alaska Wilderness: Restrictions on Drilling and Mining Draw State Ire

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to temporarily broaden the availability of higher-ethanol gasoline blends during the upcoming summer. As detailed in a letter dated Friday, this move aims to mitigate potential supply disruptions amidst ongoing geopolitical tensions in regions like Ukraine and the Middle East.

Reuters provided an exclusive report on this forthcoming decision, which signifies the third consecutive year of extending consumers’ access to E15, a gasoline blend containing 15% ethanol. Traditionally, sales of E15 have been restricted from June 1 to September.

While adding ethanol to gasoline can exacerbate smog pollution in warm weather, studies have indicated minimal variance in environmental impact between E15 and the more commonly used E10 blends. EPA Administrator Michael Regan emphasized that the agency anticipates no significant change in air quality resulting from this action, thereby justifying its alignment with the public interest.

The announcement has been met with enthusiasm from stakeholders in the Farm Belt, a crucial constituency in the lead-up to the presidential election. This decision is expected to stimulate heightened demand for agricultural products used in ethanol production.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper commended President Biden and Administrator Regan for their proactive approach to addressing potential fuel shortages and stabilizing gas prices amid escalating global tensions.

Notably, bipartisan support for expanded E15 sales was evident, with lawmakers such as Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois advocating for enhanced energy security in a letter to President Biden.

The waiver permitting increased E15 sales will come into effect on May 1 and remain in place for 20 days, with intentions to extend it as needed. The corn industry has long championed the expansion of year-round E15 sales, culminating in a recent approval for summertime sales in Midwestern states starting in 2025. However, efforts persist to achieve a nationwide, permanent expansion of E15 availability.


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