U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to permit the year-round sale of E15 fuel (15 percent ethanol-blended fuel) in the United States went into effect, which follows through on President Trump’s commitment on this issue. This policy is a win for consumer choice and energy security, and it is something for which Thune has advocated for more than a decade, first calling for a waiver process to permit higher blends of ethanol in 2007.
“When President Trump committed to working toward the implementation of year-round E15 sales, South Dakota farmers were listening,” said Thune. “I’ve spent nearly my entire time in the Senate advocating for this policy change, and I’m glad we have an administration that is willing to see it through. Consumers will for the first time during a summer driving season have greater choice for a lower-cost, cleaner fuel. While there’s no doubt this will reinforce our energy independence and be well-received by producers in the Midwest and Great Plains, there is more that can and should be done to further strengthen renewable fuels and the broader agriculture economy, and it’s something I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and with the administration to achieve.”
In April 2018, Thune joined 17 of his Senate colleagues in writing to then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to highlight the benefits of E15, and they encouraged him to address the Reid Vapor Pressure issue that was preventing year-round E15 sales. In August 2018, Thune also wrote to then-Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reiterate his support for biofuels. In October 2018, Thune joined President Trump in the Oval Office for the administration’s announcement that it would initiate a rulemaking process for year-round E15 sales.
On January 24, 2019, Thune met with Wheeler to stress the importance of completing the rule by the June 1 start of the summer travel season, which is when E15 sales become restricted, and he also discussed how easing this regulatory burden will assist the South Dakota agriculture industry.
Additionally, Thune has actively sought transparency with, and ultimately a resolution to, the EPA’s unprecedented use of small refiner exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which have kept billions of gallons of ethanol from being blended and have distorted markets. Year-round E15 sales will lower RFS compliance costs for all parties and inject stability and certainty into the ethanol market.