Recent Press Releases

EPA Seeks Update to the Clean Air Act to Greatly Increase U.S. Ethanol Production

Effort Follows Repeated Requests by Senator Thune

March 1, 2006

Washington, DC —  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a proposed rule that would update the Clean Air Act to meet today's energy needs and bolster ethanol production across the country. This rule is subject to a 60-day comment period.

The current Clean Air Act, originally written before the ethanol industry even existed, unfairly places a 100-ton emission threshold on dry mill ethanol plants, while wet mill plants, which produce the same product, can emit 250 tons annually. The proposed rule announced today, when finalized, would update the classification of dry mill ethanol plants similar to wet mill plants, allowing all ethanol plants to be regulated at the 250 ton threshold.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) originally requested this update last year to then-incoming EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. Thune then followed up with a formal letter to Administrator Johnson on September 14, 2005. A copy of the letter is attached.

"EPA's decision today will open the door to greatly enhanced ethanol production across the country. For too long, dry mill ethanol plants have been subject to an arbitrary 100-ton threshold," Thune said. "I brought this discrepancy to the attention of the EPA last year, as it became clear—after a series of hurricanes and gasoline price spikes—that alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol, are critically important to diversifying America's fuel supply and reducing America's dependence on oil.

"Momentum is building in support of ethanol being our nation's leading alternative fuel. In his State of the Union address, President Bush laid out an advanced energy initiative that stresses a commitment to funding ethanol research and use. Last year, I worked to include a 7.5 billion-gallon-per-year Renewable Fuel Standard in the energy bill that was signed into law. Goals have been set, demand is growing, dry mill plants are poised to produce ethanol at higher capacities, and farmers are prepared to grow and sell more corn. Today's proposed rule by the EPA seeks to remove stifling regulatory barriers so ethanol production can increase and we can make significant progress toward our goal of achieving energy independence in the U.S."

The proposed changes by the EPA will not in any way adversely impact the environment or the public health and safety of Americans due to the existing stringent emission control requirements that ethanol plants must now abide by.

A fact sheet with additional background information on the proposed rule is attached.

Statements of Support from Industry Leaders:

"We thank Senator Thune for his efforts on this issue. Today's proposed rule would allow South Dakota farmer-owned ethanol plants to expand and compete on a level playing field and provide more opportunities for South Dakota ag producers." –Lisa Richardson, Executive Director, South Dakota Corn Growers Association

"Jeff Broin, CEO of Broin Companies, applauds Senator Thune for his longstanding leadership and efforts to move the ethanol industry forward. Today's proposed rule by the EPA is tremendously important not only to South Dakota ethanol production but to our entire nation. This change would level the playing field and make it fair under the rules for the ethanol industry."

"Today's proposed rule by the EPA is welcome news for VeraSun and the entire ethanol industry. I commend the EPA and Senator Thune and their hard work on this issue. Today's announcement will greatly assist the industry in meeting the growing demand for ethanol nationwide."—Don Endres, Chairman and CEO of VeraSun Energy Corporation

Senator Thune's Letter