What is E15? How Biden’s gas order could save you money

Will this action save drivers a significant – or even a noticeable – amount of money at the pump? Experts tell CNN that it depends on several factors, including when your car was built, how fuel efficient it is and even your driving behavior.

Here’s what to know about the E15.

What is E15 fuel and can all vehicles use it?

E15 is a mixture of regular gasoline and a small amount of ethanol, a plant-based fuel commonly made from corn in the US. The “15” in the name means that it contains 15% ethanol.

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Even regular gasoline usually contains up to 10% ethanol blending, so E15 is more biofuel in your gas. The rationale behind Biden’s order is that gas requiring less crude — which is just too expensive — could help offset higher gas prices.

The E15 is safe for most cars manufactured in 2001 or later, and most car companies say it is fine to use. However, some car manufacturers recommend not using it for certain models.

To be completely sure, Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said car owners should consult their owner’s manual before refilling the E15, especially to make sure you’re not doing something like this. Which can void your car warranty later.
Other gas-powered things that cannot use E15, according to the Department of Energy: motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, chainsaws and gasoline lawn mowers. And if you have a passenger vehicle manufactured before 2001, you shouldn’t use E15 in it.

How cheap will E15 gas be?

The Biden administration estimates that gas prices will be about 10 cents cheaper on average after the EPA waives E15 during the summer months. De Haan estimated that the actual savings at the pump could range from 5-10 cents.

This may not be enough to counter the huge jump in gas prices, which have been slow to return despite falling crude oil prices. But even if it doesn’t feel like a real relief, De Haan stresses that consumers’ every little bit can help.

“It’s something,” he said. “Everyone’s going to be different, and I think most Americans would scoff at 5 to 10 cents, but it’s a real savings. It’s not going to feel like much relief, but it’s another option and having the option.” It’s good.”

By filling the car from empty to full, drivers can see total savings of anywhere from 45 cents to $1 for smaller cars with smaller gas tanks. For the largest vehicles, the savings can be around $2 or $3.

Is E15 gas just as efficient as regular?

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in the US on Tuesday was about $4.10.

In short: Your mileage may vary.

According to a 2009 study by the federal government, E15 gas contains slightly less energy than standard E10 gasoline. This means you’re going to get slightly less fuel economy with the E15, which means you may need to fill up more often.

But De Haan said the effect probably won’t be as noticeable.

“Because it’s only a 5% increase in the concentration of ethanol in gasoline, there’s basically a negligible hit to fuel mileage,” De Haan said. “There’s a little less energy content. Things that can make the difference are the weather, the wind, how fast the consumer is driving.”

Why is E15 usually banned in summer?

E15 is a cleaner form of gasoline because it contains biofuels—considered “carbon neutral”—and it burns cleaner than 100% gasoline. But its use actually causes more air pollution at the ground level.

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Ethanol is essentially alcohol – and because alcohol evaporates more quickly, this means that adding more ethanol to gasoline causes the fuel to evaporate more quickly. Therefore, when gasoline is mixed with ethanol, the resulting fuel becomes more volatile, evaporates more easily, and those evaporated particles react with sunlight to form smog, a form of air pollution. dangerous form.

That’s why the EPA implemented a summer ban on E15, thinking more heat and sunshine = more evaporation = more haze.

“When the gas is exposed to sunlight, especially in the summer months – it turns into ozone smog,” said Dan Baker, director of the Safe Climate Transport campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity.

E15 How much air pollution is harmful to health?

Ground-level smog contains ozone, which is a major health concern. Breathing ozone is harmful to anyone, but is especially bad for older people, people with asthma or other respiratory illness, and those who do strenuous outdoor work and face greater exposure.

Baker told CNN that excess ozone smog is particularly bad for childhood asthma.

“It’s a poor health and environmental consequence,” Baker said. “It means the ethanol lobby will be happier and children with asthma will be sicker.”

According to the EPA and CDC, here are some of the effects of breathing in ozone:
  • cough and sore throat
  • difficulty breathing deeply
  • swollen, damaged airways
  • high susceptibility to infection
  • Makes things like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema worse

Has this been done before?

E15 was legal year-round until 2011, when the EPA moved to ban it over the summer.

Furthermore, the Biden administration is copying the Trump administration’s move to waive the E15 rule in 2019. Trump’s move to the EPA was later blocked by a panel of federal judges.

Biden officials insisted to reporters that it was responding to an emergency. Biden’s announcement, a senior administration official said, differs “from his predecessor’s efforts to expand sales of ethanol” in that it is “based on the current circumstances, which are a fuel supply emergency.”

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