TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried issued an emergency rule Wednesday morning which she said will increase the gas supply throughout the state and help lower prices.
The rule, which Fried announced at a Tampa news conference, will allow gas stations to sell gasoline containing 15% denatured anhydrous ethanol, or E15, which is usually sold in the winter months. Fried said this will immediately save Floridians 10 cents per gallon at the pump.
“This rule allows Florida suppliers to utilize additional fuel types to secure a consistent and affordable supply of gas,” she said.
The gas prices are hitting just about everyone, including a local pizzeria. As soon as the slices get out of the oven, Due Amici in Ybor City is serving up its customers, but the pump is taking a slice of their profits.
“It affects us in many ways between the increase of prices on our product that we buy,” General Manager Daniel Courcy said. “Employees getting to work. Some of them have switched to public transportation.”
The country has seen record-high gas prices recently. The national average jumped three cents overnight to $4.40 per gallon, according to AAA. It was $4.37 on Tuesday. In Florida, the average also went up four cents a gallon to $4.32.
Courcy said his costs are up nearly 300%.
“We’re seeing increase of cost of agriculture production because of transportation costs, which is seeing the increase because of the gas hike,” said Fried. “So if you’re able to reduce the cost of gas it trickles down impact on consumer products like fuel.”
Courcy says any savings will make a big impact.
“If it’s going to save us money, then its only positive,” said Courcy.
Fried said gas prices have been rising as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine and supply chain issues since the pandemic. She said it’s her department’s responsibility to make sure gas stations use the E15 grade, which is cheaper. If they jack up the prices, she said, that’s price gouging.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency waiver for E15 sales on May 1. It will last for the for 20 days.
Fried’s office filed for the emergency rule on May 9. The rule will remain in effect for 90 days or until the expiration of the EPA’s waiver.