Butane blending could lower gas prices, Appalachia energy leaders say

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Leaders from Appalachian natural gas producers told U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in a letter last week that butane could be an effective means of lowering gasoline prices.

Representatives from Marcellus Shale Coalition in Pennsylvania, Kentucky Gas and Oil Association, and the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia wrote the Senator to express their view that while President Joe Biden’s administration permitted increased ethanol blends to reduce pump prices, they believe butane blends could also lower gas prices.

“Butane has always been relied upon as a historically cost-effective way to blend gasoline during periods of supply disruptions in the summer,” the authors Dave Callahan, Ryan Watts, and Charlie Burd write. “Most recently, the Biden Administration issued a waiver in the spring of 2021 when the Colonial Pipeline was offline, allowing gasoline blenders to utilize butane to increase supply and lower costs for the consumer.”

According to Callahan, Watts, and Burd, butane is less than half the cost of ethanol per gallon, and all 150,000 U.S. gasoline stations and vehicles on the road can handle butane-blended fuel. Permitting butane blends, they said, would be an effective strategy for further driving down the costs at the pump.

“We would respectfully request that the oil and gas industry be given the same opportunity as the ethanol industry and issued an RVP waiver through the summer,” the energy leaders wrote. “We believe that this is the most effective way to help lower fuel prices and would advocate that the Administration use all resources available to help lower prices, which includes the use of both butane and ethanol as blending agents.”