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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the benefits of year-round sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol-blended fuel) following the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to allow it went into effect. Thune has been a long-time advocate for biofuels, first calling for a waiver process to permit higher blends of ethanol in 2007.
Full text of the speech below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last week I came down to the floor to talk about the challenges facing farmers right now.
“While the broader economy is thriving, a combination of low commodity prices, protracted trade disputes, and natural disasters and weather-related issues have left many farmers and ranchers struggling.
“In my home state of South Dakota, farmers and ranchers are dealing with the aftermath of severe winter storms, heavy rainfall, bomb cyclones, and spring flooding.
“Planting is behind schedule, and many farmers will not be able to plant at all this year.
“But while the news has generally been tough for farmers and ranchers lately, a couple of recent happenings are worth celebrating.
“Japan’s announcement that it was lifting age limits on U.S. beef imports is a win for America’s ranchers, who will be able to substantially increase their sales to Japan.
“And the administration’s move to lift the ban on the year-round sale of E15, 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel, went live in the Federal Register yesterday.
“This is great news for corn producers in South Dakota and around the nation.
“I’ve been advocating for higher blends of ethanol for more than a decade and have spent a lot of time advocating for the year-round sale of E15.
“Year-round E15 is a win-win-win-win situation.
“It’s a win for consumers and our economy.
“It’s a win for the environment.
“It’s a win for our nation’s energy security.
“And it’s a big win for our nation’s agriculture industry.
“Year-round E15 will not only provide consumers with a cheaper alternative at the pump, but will also keep gas prices lower.
“Plus, the year-round sale of E15 means more ethanol can be sold each year.
“Gas stations have a greater incentive to sell E15 now that they will no longer have to go through the costly process of reworking and relabeling E15 pumps at the start of the summer driving season, and then converting them back in the fall.
“And increased demand will fuel further growth in the ethanol industry, which already supports hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs and contributes tens of billions to our economy.
“Year-round sales of E15 are also a win for our environment.
“Ethanol is a cleaner-burning fuel than regular gasoline, which means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
“In fact, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than one-third.
“Biofuels like ethanol are key to a lower-carbon energy future, and the next generation of advanced biofuels will further lower emissions.
“Another major advantage to ethanol is that it diminishes our dependence on foreign oil.
“Ethanol is a homegrown fuel, and the more we’re producing here at home, the less we have to rely on unstable countries or far-off sources to meet our fuel needs.
“Finally, of course, the year-round sale of E15 is a big win for our nation’s corn producers.
“America’s farmers don’t just feed our country – they help fuel it too.
“Roughly half of the corn produced in my home state of South Dakota goes into ethanol production.
“Increased demand for ethanol as a result of the administration’s decision could boost demand for corn by up to 2 billion bushels.
“That would be a significant boost to U.S. corn producers at any point, but it’s an especially big deal given the challenges the agriculture sector has faced over the past several years.
“U.S. corn producers are one of the main reasons I’ve been a relentless advocate for higher blends of ethanol, and I’m very happy that the president has delivered on his commitment to year-round sales of E15.
“As we move forward, I will continue to advocate for biofuels and the environmental and economic benefits they bring.
“Conventional ethanol has laid the foundation for advanced biofuels, which will have even lower lifecycle emissions.
“American ingenuity has turned the corner to create ethanol from other parts of plants like corn kernel fiber, boosting yields, but we need the Environmental Protection Agency to end the years-long delays and approve registrations.
“I will also continue to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to stop its practice of granting small refiner exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard that discourage demand for ethanol.
“These so-called hardship waivers should be limited only to instances where small refiners would be no longer profitable or competitive by complying with their blending obligation.
“They should not be granted to refiners who are posting billion-dollar profits and seeking to game the system.
“We need to make sure the EPA is granting waivers appropriately and in a transparent manner.
“That said, the year-round sale of E15 will actually help refiners because it will incentivize higher ethanol blending and drive down compliance costs.
“ I’m thankful President Trump made good on his commitment to our farmers to get the E15 rule done, and I’m glad he’s back in the heartland today so he can hear firsthand about the difference this will make in farm country.
“Mr. President, while we have a long way to go to get the agriculture economy thriving again, I’m heartened by this victory for corn producers.
“And I will continue to make our nation’s farmers and ranchers a priority here in Washington.”