Senator John ThuneThis past week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally announced a partial approval of E15-the blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline-for use in lightweight vehicles manufactured since 2007. The Obama Administration's decision to only approve E15 in a limited number of lightweight vehicles will unfortunately have very little effect on the overall production and use of E15, and will create unnecessary consumer confusion at the gas pump. In addition, many station owners may not even undertake the costs associated with offering E15 to such a limited number of vehicles and will likely wait until it is approved for a greater number of vehicles, which will only send mixed signals to the renewable fuels industry.
Numerous tests have proven that E15 is safe for on-road vehicles manufactured prior to 2007. South Dakota produces one billion gallons of ethanol each year and full approval of E15 would greatly benefit our state's economy and spur investment in the development of next generation biofuel production.
Not only is an increase in the production and use of ethanol good for South Dakota, it is good for America. Industry experts estimate that full approval of E15 could create as many as 136,000 new jobs across the nation, a welcome move in a time of high unemployment. In addition to improving our economy, the expanded approval of E15 would help ease our country's dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy.
I have been a vocal advocate for higher ethanol blends and have continually called for the approval of such blends dating back to 2007. Since then, I've led a coalition of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in urging the Department of Energy and the EPA to approve higher blends for use in on-road vehicles. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the development of domestic sources of clean, renewable energy and work to further ingenuity and development in the industry.
The Obama Administration should immediately expand their approval of E15 to additional on-road vehicles in order to end the continued uncertainty for consumers and producers in the renewable fuels market.