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Agriculture Commissioner Fried promotes E15 fuel in effort to reduce pain at pump

Fried says people could find savings of 10 cents per gallon, but not many gas stations sell the E15 fuel.

TAMPA, Fla. — With many families in the Sunshine State feeling the effects of high gas prices, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried on Wednesday announced drivers could find savings by using E15 gas.

Fried's agency earlier this week issued an emergency rule on gas, which allows for the sale of 15 percent denatured anhydrous ethanol, also known as E15, outside of the traditional fuel season.

"This will allow gas retailers to sell the blend typically used in the winter during the summer months, which aids to help increase our fuel supplies and give consumers more choice to get lower prices," Fried said at a news conference in Tampa.

According to Fried, gas prices have been rising due to Russia's war on Ukraine and continued supply chain issues caused by the global pandemic. 

This change in gas will help Florida families save money at the pump — roughly 10 cents per gallon — and help reduce dependency on foreign oil, Fried said. It may be difficult to find E15 fuel, however, as a little more than a handful of stations in the Tampa Bay area carry it, Get Biofuel's map shows.

"As your commissioner of agriculture and consumer services and with my department overseeing fuel equality in the state of Florida, I'm taking action to help elevate pain at the pump," said Fried, criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans for not taking enough action.

DeSantis had opposing thoughts on the new gas rule during a news conference in northern Florida.

"I'm very concerned about the energy this summer...I've not seen [gas] under $4 in Florida for unleaded in a long time," the governor said. "This is a huge problem, and I am concerned about what would happen this summer as more people are driving..."

The governor last week signed a $1.2 billion tax relief package which, in part, approved a gas tax holiday in October. The holiday, however, does not guarantee lower prices at the pump.

On a federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a waiver that temporarily lifted federal standards for fuel blends containing gasoline between 9 to 15 percent E15 earlier this month.

President Joe Biden announced in April a modest step aimed at trimming gasoline prices by about a dime a gallon at a limited number of stations by waiving rules that restrict ethanol blending.

Most gasoline sold in the U.S. is blended with 10% ethanol, a biofuel that is currently cheaper than gas. Biden was announcing that the Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency waiver to allow the widespread sale of a 15% ethanol blend that is usually prohibited between June 1 and Sept. 15 because of concerns that it adds to smog in high temperatures.

Senior Biden administration officials said the action will save drivers an average of 10 cents per gallon based on current prices, but at just 2,300 gas stations out of the nation's more than 100,000. The affected stations are mostly in the Midwest and the South, including Texas, according to industry groups.

Administration officials said the EPA has determined that the “emergency” step of allowing more E15 gasoline sales for the summer is not likely to have a significant air quality impact. That's despite some environmentalists long arguing that more ethanol in gasoline increases pollution, especially during warmer summer months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Watch Commissioner Nikki Fried's full news conference below: