Market News & Headlines >> Biden Announces Emergency E-15 Waiver

President Biden on Tuesday announced his administration will take steps to extend the availability of gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15) through the summer months in a further effort to curb soaring fuel costs and cut reliance on foreign energy sources.

The announcement came after the U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 1.2% during March pushing 12-month inflation rate to a 40-year high of 8.5% and is no doubt also intended to and prop up Biden's sagging poll numbers.

In his remarks, delivered at a POET ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, the President linked high fuel prices to Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away," Biden said.

The news helped rally corn futures on Tuesday amid expectations for stronger corn-for-ethanol demand, although the increase in use will be modest.

The measure will allow Americans to keep buying E15 gasoline, from June 1 to Sept. 15. While E15 is only 10 cents cheaper on average and is less "energy dense," meaning drivers would need to buy more fuel, it should still help lower expenses, senior administration officials told reporters on a Monday call.

To make the change, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to issue a national emergency waiver closer to June, administration officials said. The EPA is also considering additional action to allow for the use of E15 year-round, the White House said, according to Reuters News Service.

Predictably, the National Corn Growers Association and renewable fuels groups applauded the decision, while petroleum industry representatives criticized the administration.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFP) industry group questioned whether the expansion of E15 sales was lawful. "Emergency fuel waivers are short term and reserved for very specific unforeseen events and regionally acute supply disruptions, such as those resulting from a hurricane," AFP Chief Executive Chet Thompson told Reuters.