Since being elected to Congress, I have worked to strengthen America’s energy security and increase the availability and use of alternative energy sources. I believe this is important, not only because it can reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy, but also because of the environmental benefits of using cleaner sources of energy and the economic benefits of their supporting industries.

South Dakota is fortunate to have significant alternative energy resources, including hydropower, wind, and a strong agriculture sector that allows for the production of renewable fuels, like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. In a very short period of time, our state has become one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to research, production, and use of renewable energy. I was proud to fight for the year-round sale of E15 fuel, which is a great win for consumer choice and our farmers, while also lowering transportation emissions. I continue to fight to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which supports America’s energy independence, consumer choice at the fuel pump, a critical market for South Dakota farmers, and lowers fuel emissions.

In addition to these homegrown fuels, domestic production of oil and natural gas is a critical component to America’s energy security. Advancements in oil and gas extraction have led to America becoming a net exporter of energy and have provided affordable and reliable energy for South Dakota consumers and businesses.  The United States has already made significant progress in reducing emissions through cleaner-burning natural gas and investment in renewable energy generation. I will continue to support an all-of-the-above approach to energy, and South Dakota is leading by example. In fact, due to robust hydroelectric and wind energy, 70 percent of South Dakota’s energy production is renewable. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I have promoted wind development in the Great Plains through the wind production tax credit and co-lead a critical effort in 2020 to extend the credit’s eligibility window for wind projects in development that were at risk for labor and supply chains disruptions as a result of the pandemic. As a result, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw more wind projects come online nationally than in any previous year other than 2012. In order to further leverage our state’s energy potential, we must look for opportunities to build increased transmission and other resilient infrastructure.

I will continue to promote pro-growth energy and environmental policies and to reduce regulatory hurdles for stakeholders. By encouraging domestic energy production, increasing America’s renewable energy supply, and reducing consumption, we can ultimately achieve lower energy costs, lower emissions, greater energy independence, and a stronger economy. 

As your U.S. senator, I am committed to advancing policies that will increase our domestic energy security, create jobs, and provide affordable energy for South Dakota families and small businesses.

Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Leadership for Renewable Fuels:

  • Leading a Bipartisan, Regionally Diverse Coalition of Senators to Defend the RFS and Advocate for Higher Volumes and Blending Targets:
    • According to Fuels America, the renewable fuels sector in South Dakota annually generates $6.9 billion in economic output; over 26,700 direct, induced, and supplier jobs; $2.1 billion in wages; and nearly $191 million in state and $390 million in federal tax revenue.
    • There are 16 ethanol plants driving this important industry in South Dakota, each contributing to a total state production capacity of over 1 billion gallons per year.
    • Sen. Thune remains a strong advocate for higher blends of ethanol. After over a decade of advocating for the yearround sale of E15 fuel, which was secured in 2019, he continues to support blending infrastructure to expand consumer access to higher blends of fuel.
    • He has consistently advocated for higher renewable volume obligations, contesting efforts to award  “small refinery exemptions,” which destroy market demand for ethanol, and as well as rejecting legislative efforts to weaken the RFS.
    • Sen. Thune has introduced bipartisan legislation to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its greenhouse gas modeling for biofuels to accurately credit the significant emissions reductions provided by biofuels over conventional gasoline.
    • Sen. Thune has also introduced a bipartisan bill to require EPA to approve certain advanced biofuels and expedite the review of new advanced fuels, which will improve the margins of biofuel processors and further lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advancing American Biodiesel:
    • In 2015, Sen. Thune co-sponsored a provision to convert the biodiesel tax credit from a blender’s credit to a producer’s credit, a change that would benefit South Dakota producers and reduce fraud.
    • As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, in 2019 Sen. Thune helped secure a historic five-year extension of the biodiesel blender’s tax credit, which had expired for nearly two years.
    • Sen. Thune has cosigned letters to the EPA in support of higher biodiesel volumes under the RFS, as well as insulating domestic refiners from being crowded out of the market by imported biodiesel.