Biden says 70% of March's record inflation was driven by 'Putin's price hike' in gasoline

Joe Biden (L), Vladimir Putin (R).
Joe Biden (L), Vladimir Putin (R).Alex Brandon/AP Photo; Sergei Karpukhin\TASS via Getty Images
  • Biden said 70% of price increases in March were because of Putin's "price hike" in gasoline.

  • The US Department of Labor's report said gas prices were up 18.3% in March after rising 6.6% in February.

  • Biden said sales of E15 ethanol-blended gas — $0.10 cheaper than other gas — will be allowed in US.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the record inflation figures seen in March were largely due to a surge in the price of gasoline following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Biden was referring to a report by the US Department of Labor, published on Tuesday, which said gas prices were up 18.3% in March after jumping 6.6% in February. It also said consumer prices had risen by 8.5% in March from a year earlier — the biggest 12-month increase since December 1981.

Addressing the White House's measures to lower gas prices in a speech at an ethanol mill in Iowa on Tuesday, Biden said: "We saw in today's inflation data: 70% of the increase in prices in March came from Putin's price hike in gasoline. We need to address this challenge with an urgency that it demands."

In early March, Biden announced that the US had banned imports of Russian liquefied natural gas, oil, and coal, in response to Moscow's decision to invade Ukraine, stating the US will not "subsidize Putin's war." He said the ban would negatively affect the US, and dubbed the prospect of a higher cost of gas as "Putin's price hike."

Russia is the world's third largest producer of crude oil, and the world's second largest exporter, according to the International Energy Agency. The cost of crude surged after the Kremlin ordered its troops into Ukraine, translating into higher prices for petroleum products which are refined from it.

In Iowa on Tuesday, Biden said: "Putin's invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world."

In response to the high gas prices, Biden said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to introduce an emergency waiver to allow E15 gasoline — gasoline blended with 15% ethanol — to be sold throughout the US this summer. It's on average $0.10 per gallon cheaper than E10 gasoline, Biden added, although some experts have warned that the lower energy content of E15 means motorists will get lower mileage per gallon and may have to fill up more frequently.

"You're not going to show up at your local gas station and see a bag over the pump that has the cheapest gas," he said. "You're going to be able to keep filling up with E15."

Biden said that families' abilities to fill up their tanks with gas shouldn't "hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away," labelling Russia's actions in the Ukraine war as a genocide for the first time, rather than war crimes.

According to the American Automobile Association, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $4.08 on Wednesday. That compares with an average of $4.33 a month ago, and $2.86 at the same point last year.

Read the original article on Business Insider