3 ways ethanol brings down gas prices

A solution to high gas prices is being planted across the American Heartland

It’s no secret the cost of gasoline is through the roof – and with summer around the corner, prices could climb higher. As a result, the cost of groceries and other goods are also ticking up, and hardworking families are feeling the pinch.

No matter who some politicians might try to blame, finger-pointing isn’t going to solve the problem. We need results. And the Midwest is sowing a solution.


E15 fuel pump

FILE PHOTO: A gas pump displays the price for E15, a gasoline with 15 percent of ethanol, at a gas station in Nevada, Iowa, United States, May 17, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo (Reuters)

I’m lucky enough to represent more than 7,000-square miles of Northwest and Central Illinois — home to nearly 10,000 family farms and seven biofuels plants in and around our Congressional District. These plants support American jobs and drive economic growth in our rural communities as they turn corn grown right here in the Heartland into ethanol for cars and trucks. 

When we blend ethanol into our gasoline, it reduces harmful emissions almost in half, brings down the price for consumers by up to 60 cents per gallon and supports American farmers.

Most Americans are more focused on the dollars and cents clicking upward on the pump than the label on it as they’re filling up. But the E10 and E15 labels can make a whole lot of difference in how much you shell out. What these labels tell us is how much ethanol has been blended into the gasoline we’re buying. For example, E15 is fuel containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll see that fuel with higher blends of ethanol is much easier on the pocketbook.

A gas pump displays the price for E15, a gasoline with 15 percent of ethanol, and various other ethanol blends at a gas station in Nevada, Iowa, United States, May 17, 2015. Over the past few months, privately held retailers Kum & Go and Shee

So why is it that higher ethanol blends can bring down gas prices?

Ethanol is home-grown and American-made.

While importing foreign oil involves costs for transportation and tariffs, biofuels like ethanol are grown and produced right here in America. So instead of supporting oil moguls in the Middle East or Russia, we’re boosting demand for corn grown by American farmers, and produced at plants that support jobs and prosperity here at home.

Ethanol blending increases America’s fuel supply.

Part of the reason gasoline prices are so high right now is because of high demand and low supply. But when we add ethanol to the gasoline we already have, it means there’s more overall fuel to go around. By bolstering the low supply of oil with the increased use of corn ethanol, we can increase our overall fuel supply and bring down prices across the board.

Ethanol is less expensive per gallon.

Not only does ethanol strengthen our fuel supply, but it also reduces the cost of each gallon of gasoline you buy at the pump. Because ethanol is less expensive per gallon than traditional gasoline, a gallon of E15 blended gas can be up to 50 to 60 cents per gallon cheaper.

With the average American purchasing 421 gallons of gas a year, this could mean savings up to $252 annually for consumers! 

OK, you may be asking: "I’m ready to support American farmers, increase our nation’s fuel supply, and pay less at the pump! But can my car handle ethanol?"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises that E15 is safe to use on vehicles manufactured from 2001 through today. And because we’ve been blending ethanol into gasoline for decades, automakers have already made sure that seals, hoses and gaskets in the vehicles they make can handle higher blends of ethanol, like E15. 

Would more corn used for ethanol reduce our food supply or increase prices at the grocery store? 

The short answer is no. If you’ve ever driven around the Heartland, you’ll see that we have plenty of corn to go around! And the corn used for ethanol isn’t what you eat off the cob. What you may not know, is that the feed corn used for ethanol becomes nutrient-dense distillers grain after production. This is then used as the second-largest source of animal feed in the United States!

So how can our policies leverage American biofuels to reduce gas prices? Thankfully, President Biden is leading the way in supporting ethanol blending. Recently, the Administration announced it would rescind 31 oil refinery waivers that would have allowed oil companies to avoid blending ethanol into their supply. And just this month, President Biden announced an emergency rule to reverse a freeze on E15 sales this summer. Both of these actions are important moves to prevent a continued rise in gas prices for consumers. 


Moving forward, I’m continuing to work with my colleagues on the bipartisan House Biofuels Caucus to secure year-round sales of E15, and pass the Home Front Energy Independence Act, which would expand the production and availability of American biofuels to help lower fuel costs for hardworking men and women across the country. 

By utilizing American-made ethanol, we can help counter high gas prices and keep costs down for hardworking families across the country and work toward a cleaner and healthier future. 

Democrat Cheri Bustos represents the 17th District of Illinois.