Recent Press Releases

Thune Applauds E15 Waiver Request

--Calls on EPA to Move Swiftly to Higher Blends of Ethanol--

March 6, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune praised a waiver request submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of over 50 ethanol producers for the approval of up to 15 percent ethanol (85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol) for use in non-flex fuel vehicles. Senator Thune has been working for the past two years to move to higher blends of ethanol and today's action by industry leaders is a critical step in this process under the Clean Air Act.

"Higher blends of ethanol can help solve two of the challenges facing our nation: our overdependence on imported oil and the need to expand the use of renewable fuels," said Thune. "Renewable fuels production continues to be an important economic engine for rural America, and moving to higher blends of ethanol is absolutely necessary to keep this industry growing and moving toward advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol."

The EPA now has 270 days to approve or deny the higher blends request. During this process, the EPA will review the data and studies that were submitted with the waiver request as well as seek public comment on the matter. The EPA could approve the waiver request for a blend of ethanol up to E15 or modify the EPA rule of "substantially similar" fuel to allow for higher blends to be used in non-flex fuel vehicles.

"While the U.S. Department of Energy continues to study the possibility of moving to E15 and E20, I call on the EPA to act quickly on this waiver request and approve a blend of gasoline up to 15 percent ethanol as soon as possible."

On March 4th, Growth Energy, an association of American ethanol producers, released a study showing the economic benefits that could be created by increasing the ethanol blend in the nation's gasoline supply from 10 percent to 15 percent. The report concludes that such a change could create and support 136,101 new jobs and inject $24.4 billion into the nation's economy annually.

"As Congress and the Administration explore avenues for job creation and economic growth, this study clearly shows that higher blends of ethanol will create thousands of jobs while improving our energy security."

A move to E15 could offset the need to import 7 billion gallons of gasoline annually, which is equivalent to 70 percent of the annual oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Additionally, since ethanol emits less carbon dioxide relative to regular gasoline, the approval of higher blends would result in the reduction of 60 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Last September, Senator Thune hosted a bipartisan meeting with several of his colleagues, including now-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to discuss the importance of approving intermediate ethanol blends such as 15 percent ethanol (E15) and 20 percent ethanol (E20). At this meeting, Senator Thune brought together the leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S Department of Energy, and the EPA to underscore the critical importance of inter-agency coordination on E15 and E20 studies. In November of last year, Senator Thune hosted a similar meeting with several U.S. Senators, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler LLC.

In April 2007, Senator Thune wrote to the EPA asking the agency to prepare for a higher blends waiver request. Since that time, Senator Thune has lead a bipartisan group of Senators calling on the U.S. Department of Energy to make higher blends research on E15 and E20 a top priority.

"Ethanol producers in South Dakota and across the nation stand ready to help our country meet its energy needs," added Thune. "I will continue to work with industry leaders, federal, state, and local officials, as well as every day citizens to ensure that biofuels remain an important part of our overall energy security strategy."