Recent Press Releases

House Passes Energy Bill with Important Increase in Renewable Fuels Standard

Measure Expected to be Signed by the President

December 18, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  Today the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which includes an historic increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Senator John Thune has been working to increase the RFS and following Senate approval last week, today's vote in the House of Representatives will send this important measure to the President for his consideration.

"Twice this year, the Senate has passed an historic increase to the Renewable Fuels Standard, which would displace as much as 12.2 billion barrels of imported oil over the next 15 years." said Thune. "I am pleased that the House has accepted the Senate version and I look forward to the President signing this Energy bill into law."

The increased RFS would require refiners to blend 9 billion gallons of ethanol into our fuel supply in 2008. The current RFS 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 and has jumpstarted our nation's production of renewable fuel that reduce our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy.

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.

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.