Recent Press Releases

Senate Passes Energy Bill with Historic Increased Renewable Fuels Standard

Thune Praised for Leadership on Passing RFS

December 13, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  Today the United States Senate passed (86 to 8) the Energy Bill, H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which includes an historic increased Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Senator John Thune has been working for months to get an increased RFS through the Senate. Several South Dakota agriculture and ethanol groups and others praised Thune for his leadership and tireless efforts to pass an RFS.

"After months of hard work, I am pleased to have helped move an increased RFS through the Senate. Without an increased renewable fuels standard, South Dakota's ethanol industry would have faced an unnecessary setback. This is an important victory for South Dakota's renewable fuels industry, as well as families across the nation who are suffering from high fuel prices," said Thune. "The Energy Bill, with higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and the RFS, will help America lessen its dependence on foreign sources of oil. Rather than sending our energy dollars to hostile regimes in unfriendly parts of the world, it is time for America to invest in domestic alternative energy sources. Reducing this nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy is absolutely critical and achievable. America has the resources, the will, and the need to produce more of our energy here at home."

The increased RFS would require refiners to blend 9 billion gallons of ethanol into our fuel supply in 2008. The current standard requires 7.5 billion gallons by 2012, which the ethanol industry will meet by the end of this year. The new standard increases ethanol usage to 15 billion gallons by 2015 - more than doubling the current production of corn-based ethanol. Beyond 2015, the new RFS calls for the production of 36 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022. Twenty-one billion gallons must be cellulosic ethanol, which is made from energy-dedicated crops such as woodchips and switchgrass. In total, this bill calls for a five-fold increase in ethanol production over the next 15 years.

Senator Thune has been a leader in the renewable fuels movement dating back to his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2005 Senator Thune, then a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, spearheaded an effort to establish the nation's first renewable fuels standard that was included as part of the 2005 Energy Bill. That legislation required the production and use of 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2012.

Since enactment of the 2005 Energy Bill, Senator Thune has worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to increase the RFS, due to the significant growth in domestic ethanol production. Because our nation's ethanol producers are close to meeting the 7.5 billion gallon RFS four years ahead of schedule, Senator Thune strongly supported an expanded RFS earlier this year (36 billion gallons by 2022) as part of the Senate passed Energy bill. While completion of the Energy bill languished in Congress this year, Senators Thune, Domenici (R-NM), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) offered an amendment during the Farm Bill reauthorization to ensure that an RFS could be signed into law this year. Shortly after Thune, Domenici, and Nelson offered their RFS amendment to the Farm Bill, Democrat leadership in the House and Senate finally agreed to put together an Energy Bill and on December 6, 2007 the House passed an Energy Bill, which included 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

Thune Receives Praise for Leadership on RFS:

"The final passage of an increased RFS is a huge victory for agriculture and the ethanol industry. South Dakota Corn Growers thank Senator Thune for his relentless work on the RFS. Senator Thune's efforts to attach the RFS to the farm bill earlier this year is what finally broke loose the energy bill and made passage of the RFS possible. Thune's efforts made the difference," said Lisa Richardson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Corn Growers.

"A new RFS is essential if we are to meet our country's domestic energy goals. Passage of the RFS is a major step toward energy independence. Senator Thune's leadership on the RFS was critical to its success and I applaud his efforts," said Jeff Broin, Chief Executive Officer of POET.

"Senator Thune has been a leader in the U.S. Senate in shaping a new, renewable energy future for this country. His understanding of the importance of a diversified motor fuel market, including the increased use of renewable fuels like ethanol, has been instrumental in ensuring that America's domestic ethanol industry continues to thrive," said Bob Dinneen, President & CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

"Senator Thune is an ardent supporter of ethanol. His leadership in passing a robust Renewable Fuels Standard in the Senate will foster the continued development of our industry," said Don Endres, Chairman and CEO of VeraSun Energy. "The economic revitalization of rural Midwestern communities will expand to other regions of the county as our domestic fuel production grows and develops. This is an important milestone for the economic growth and energy security of our country."

"It is vitally important that we diversify our fuel supply by enacting a robust Renewable Fuels Standard. Senator John Thune is a forceful leader on this issue. I'm proud to have teamed up with him on this issue, which will help America rely less on foreign oil and more on homegrown biofuels. There is no doubt that his efforts played an instrumental role in its success," said U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Because the Senate modified controversial provisions in the House-passed Energy Bill, the bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives and upon passage will then go to the President for his consideration.

Expanding the RFS Will Benefit South Dakota and Rural America
By the end of 2008, South Dakota will be producing over 1 billion gallons of ethanol, mainly from locally-owned ethanol plants. According to John Urbanchuk, an economist at LECG, LLC, the expanded RFS would result in the following economic benefits:
  • Add nearly $1.5 trillion (in today's dollars) to GDP between 2008 and 2022;

  • Generate an additional $435 billion (in today's dollars) of household income for all Americans between 2008 and 2022; and

  • Support the creation of as many as 1.1 million new jobs in all sectors of the economy by 2022.