Last Tuesday, President Biden announced that the EPA will be lifting the summer restriction on E15 fuel. While opinions on this move are mixed, there was a much larger audience that has no idea what E15 gasoline even is.
And that’s because it’s not sold at every gas station. Normal gasoline, regular unleaded, is actually blended with 10% ethanol and is also called E10. As you might imagine, E15 means that there is 15% ethanol. And it actually burns cleaner than traditional gas.
However, it causes more ground pollution, which is why it is banned during the summertime, where it can cause smog to appear if enough cars use it. Yet, because E15 has more ethanol in it, it is a cheaper fuel.
With the way the economy is, that’s important.
Let’s take a look at what kind of an impact this will announcement will have.
Will E15 Gasoline Actually Impact Gas Prices?
The main goal of this change is to help Americans at the pump. Gas prices are out of control and it’s causing serious problems for most people.
If you were already using E15 normally, you would need to switch to regular E10 during the summer, which will cost about five to ten cents more. That’s not the case as this year you will be able to keep using the cheaper fuel.
That’s a good thing for regular gas users, too. At least, in theory, it should help lower the overall cost of gas, but many are skeptical.
Firstly, not all cars can use E15. Generally speaking, most cars made after 2001 can use E15 without issue (owners should check the car manual first), but there are plenty of older cars on the road today that can’t take advantage of the savings.
It’s also worth noting that this fuel can’t be used for lawnmowers or boats either.
Secondly, there’s the issue of it not being widely available. A big reason that is the case is because it is a seasonal-dependent fuel. Normally having to stop offering it during the summer would be enough for most gas stations to not bother carrying it.
Are the Environmental Concerns Worth It?
On one hand, there are some serious advantages to E15 when it comes to the environment, but there are also disadvantages.
For example, E15 actually produces 1.25 grams of carbon dioxide less than traditional gasoline. Thus, it is actually a much cleaner fuel to burn. Nonetheless, carbon isn’t the only emissions being released.
E15 is normally banned in the summer due to smog concerns. This is because the gas becomes more volatile when more ethanol is added. This causes it to evaporate faster, and those particles have a reaction when exposed to sunlight.
In simple terms, the more E15 that evaporates means more smog.
Smog is dangerous to anyone suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma. It is particularly dangerous to children. Thus, during the summertime when the children are out and the sunlight is strong, E15 is a serious concern.
Obviously, we won’t know the real impact until June 1st, but the country is desperate to lower gas prices.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.