With Illinois Gas Prices Above $4 a Gallon, Corn Farmers Hope EPA Decision Eases Burden

With Illinois Gas Prices Above $4 a Gallon, Corn Farmers Hope EPA Decision Eases Burden

With the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Illinois already above $4, more than 50 cents higher than any of its neighboring states, some are hopeful prices may ease now that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency waiver to allow for the sale of E15 gasoline this summer.

Illinois was asking for the waiver, which exempts the 15% ethanol fuel blend from anti-smog regulations that usually block sales from June 1 to Sept. 15 throughout much of the country.

The EPA said the waiver is a way to reduce gasoline prices at a time of market supply uncertainty because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Allowing E15 sales during the summer driving season will not only help increase fuel supply, but support American farmers, strengthen U.S. energy security and provide relief to drivers across the country," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

The decision is a win for Illinois farmers looking to expand the market for corn.

“IL Corn applauds the EPA in making this decision for consumers to have access to an affordable low-carbon fuel choice,” said Matt Rush, ICGA president and Illinois farmer. “Rural Illinois is a key partner for tackling climate and energy issues and today’s decision further illustrates that farmers are here for long-term solutions at the pump.”

Not everyone is on board with the move. Patrick Kelly, senior director of fuel and vehicle policy with the American Fuels and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, said the so-called “boutique” gas is more expensive to make.

“A lower vapor pressure boutique gasoline costs more to produce in the refinery and distribute through the retail distribution system,” Kelly said.

The EPA estimated E15 blends cost about 25 cents less per gallon at the pump than E10 blends. There is a drawback to ethanol blends. It is estimated vehicles travel 3% to 4% fewer miles on E10 and 4% to 5% less on E15 than on 100% gasoline.

According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas in Illinois is $4.02, the seventh highest average in the country and the highest in the Midwest. That is compared to $3.31 in neighboring Missouri, $3.37 in Wisconsin and $3.39 in Iowa.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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