The South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) commends Senator John Thune for spearheading action leading to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) improvement of permitting requirements today for dry mill ethanol plants. The rule change will pave the way for the ethanol industry to meet the President’s “20 in 10” energy security plan.
Sen. Thune initiated this movement two years ago by rallying the support of fellow members of Congress urging the EPA to properly classify how ethanol plants are permitted.
EPA’s action today will reclassify fuel ethanol production plants as being subject to a 250 ton per year permitting threshold, easing the unnecessarily restrictive 100 ton permitting classification for fuel ethanol plants. This action levels the playing field for farmer-owned ethanol facilities and will be regulated at the 250 ton per year threshold that beverage alcohol plants are currently subject to.
Fuel ethanol and beverage alcohol plants have been regulated differently yet use the same fermentation process to produce ethanol. As a result, fuel ethanol plants have been constrained from producing more ethanol even though they have the ability to do so. The ethanol industry, farmers and consumers will all benefit from the rule change.
“The EPA rule change brings equality to the permitting process of ethanol plants and allows ethanol developers to take advantage of efficiencies of scale,” said Steve Domm, manager of Millennium Ethanol, Marion, S.D. “The rule change will offer developing ethanol plants the ability to engage in a streamlined permitting process and expedited construction.”
The EPA’s rule change will have no impact on the environment. Strict Clean Air Act standards are still in place to assure that both ethanol production and the resulting renewable motor fuel remain environmentally superior to oil refining and gasoline use.
“The EPA’s decision today put the nation on a fast track to energy independence,” said David Gillen, chairman of the SDCGA. “The majority of the ethanol produced in the United States comes from dry mill plants and by properly reclassifying the permitting threshold for fuel ethanol production will help us raise our ethanol production and in turn will reduce fuel prices. Sen. Thune’s foresight of today’s energy demands is the visionary leadership that not only supports South Dakota farmers but will allow the ethanol industry to reach its full potential.”