"Today's meeting was another step in the process of moving from the currently approved E10 blend of gasoline to E15 and E20 blends of ethanol," said Thune. "Ethanol plants across South Dakota and the country are producing record levels of ethanol fuel, in fact 46 percent of our nation's gasoline is mixed with 10 percent ethanol. Federal approval of higher blends of ethanol will secure sufficient market demand for increased ethanol production. We need to push officials at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expeditiously approve these higher blends and meetings like this can encourage those efforts."
The Department of Energy is coordinating with the EPA to examine the compatibility and drivability of intermediate blends, such as E15, E20, and other higher blends, on non-Flexible Fuel Vehicles. Under the Clean Air Act, only Flexible Fuel Vehicles are permitted to run on higher blends of ethanol. A waiver from the EPA would change this rule.
The University of Minnesota is currently studying the drivability, seasonal impacts, emissions and health impacts of E20 and the results from this study should be available later this year. In March 2007, Senator Thune wrote to the EPA urging regulators to be prepared for a waiver application based on this study for the use of E20 in automobiles. In August, Senator Thune also met with University of Minnesota professors to be briefed on this important study.
"Ethanol continues to be a success story, not only for Rural America, but for our country's energy independence as well. I will continue working with Administration officials and private sector stakeholders to obtain federal approval of higher blends of ethanol as we work to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy."