Recent Press Releases

Thune Criticizes EPA Decision to Delay E-15 Approval

Urges Timely Completion of Additional Studies and Approval of Higher Blends

December 1, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today released the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that the agency will not meet the December 1, 2009 statutory deadline and will instead delay a final decision on approving higher blends of ethanol for use in conventional vehicles:

“Today’s announcement is disappointing to those of us who have worked in the past to win approval for higher ethanol blends,” said Thune. “Homegrown fuels are a key component to reducing our dangerous overdependence on imported energy while creating jobs across rural America. While I am pleased that the EPA has recognized the need for higher volumes of renewable fuel in our fuel supply, the delay in making this decision is discouraging. I will continue working with the EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the biofuels industry to ensure that we win approval for higher blends as soon as possible in 2010.”

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.

“Without the timely approval of E15, we will not have the market for the next generation of cellulosic ethanol and the commercialization of advanced biofuels will be delayed,” said Thune.

In 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.

Last year, 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.