EPA delays E15 waiver decision

Consumer choice was put on hold today when the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will delay its decision whether to allow gasoline blends to contain up to 15 percent ethanol. The South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) calls the indecision a disservice to consumers who deserve opportunity to choose American fuel over petroleum from countries who don’t like us.

“The postponed decision by EPA is disappointing news for consumers and threatens to restrict the only industry with the current capability to create jobs, jump start the economy, improve the environment and advance energy independence,” said Bill Chase, president of the SDCGA. “Increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline is critical not only to the corn and ethanol industries but to society as a whole.”

The move to E15 would replace the need to import as much as 7 billion gallons of fuel, create 136,000 new jobs in the U.S., and reinforce national security by reducing our dependence on foreign sources.

“With numerous studies already supporting the viability of E15, we are confident the final results from further testing will prove that higher blends of ethanol can be used in all vehicles,” said Chase.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. imports 12 million barrels of oil per day, nearly 60 percent of the oil we consume. Ethanol can replace more of that oil, helping to achieve greater energy independence.

The corn and ethanol industries have exceeded all expectations in production as they have committed to achieving goals set by the government in 2007 when Congress mandated the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022 in the Renewable Fuels Standard. By staying at E10, that goal is virtually impossible. The ethanol industry produces about 12 billion gallons of ethanol today. By 2012, the law will mandate more ethanol usage than can be sold as E10, according to an analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association. By moving to a 15 percent blend, or E15, ethanol production could grow to 16 billion to 17 billion gallons according to industry estimates.

"The only thing preventing the American ethanol industry from meeting the government mandate is the government itself,” said Chase. “Our nation’s corn farmers are currently collecting one of the largest crops on record and we stand poised to fully satisfy the needs of our ethanol industry while protecting our food and feed supply. But right now there’s an artificial government-imposed regulatory cap that suppresses the use of this cleaner alternative and our ability to take control of our energy destiny.”

While the SDCGA is disappointed with the postponed decision, the EPA’s letter does indicate a positive move toward E15. The EPA says testing should be completed by August, with significant results available by mid-June. In EPA’s letter, the agency states that its engineering assessments indicate that the “robust fuel, engine and emissions control systems on newer vehicles will likely be able to accommodate higher ethanol blends, such as E15.” The letter notes that increasing the blend wall to E15 is a “critical issue” as the nation works toward “long-term introduction of more renewable fuels into the transportation sector.”

“The bottom line is, consumers demand and deserve a choice, and when given that choice we believe they will choose American fuel. The SDCGA urges the EPA to be expedient in allowing Americans the freedom of choice,” said Chase.

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