Recent Press Releases

Senator John Thune today issued the following statement in response to industry reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) again delaying the decision on approval of higher blends of ethanol for use in conventional vehicles:

"It has been six months since the EPA was statutorily required to announce a decision on higher blends and now industry leaders, producers, and consumers have been put on hold again," said Thune. "This delay is unacceptable for those of us who have been working to advance the biofuels industry in this country. Ethanol creates jobs across rural American and is a key to lessening our dependence on foreign sources of energy. I am committed to continuing to work with the EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and stakeholders within the biofuels industry to make higher blends a reality for consumers."

Currently, the EPA limits ethanol from being blended with gasoline above E10 (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline) for use in non-flex fuel engines. Without moving to a higher blend, ethanol will be arbitrarily capped which will result in what is known as the "blend wall" - the point when ethanol production will exceed market demand due to the E10 limitation. Approval of E15 would create as many as 136,000 new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The ethanol blend wall is particularly burdensome because the 2007 Energy bill requires the production and use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

"Delays in approving higher blends creates an unnecessary uncertainty in the ethanol industry. This is a time when we should be promoting alternative sources of energy and finding new and innovative energy solutions."

Last July, Senator Thune led a bipartisan group of his colleagues in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to approve the request for higher blends made by a coalition of renewable fuels producers. In 2008, Senator Thune led another group of Senators in urging the Department of Energy to continue higher blends studies and toured both the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to get a firsthand briefing on higher blends testing.

Also in 2008, Senator Thune hosted a bipartisan meeting with several of his colleagues to discuss the importance of approving intermediate ethanol blends such as 15 percent ethanol (E15) and 20 percent ethanol (E20). At this meeting, Senator Thune brought together the leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S Department of Energy, and the EPA to underscore the critical importance of inter-agency coordination on E15 and E20 studies. Senator Thune also hosted a similar meeting with several U.S. Senators and auto manufacturers including Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler LLC.