Scott Stahl, McCook County South Dakota corn farmer and President of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association
Last April, inflation rates at a 40-year high galvanized action from the Environmental Protection Agency to do something that South Dakota corn growers and ethanol producers had been waiting for; open year-round sales of E15. And while this was a step forward for the ethanol industry, this decision to date hasn’t resulted in becoming a permanent change.
Typically, sales of E15 are banned June through September because of a concern for air quality. However, an analysis conducted by the US Department of Agriculture in 2017 showed ‘that U.S. corn-based ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to gasoline’. In fact, the Fuels Institute has shared that air pollution from E15 is actually less than other gasoline already being utilized.
With continued inflation and green-house gas emissions still a major concern, year-round sales should be looked at to be a viable option helping to solve a part of these current and ongoing problems. And obviously I am not the only person to think so. Last April there were eight Governors including Governor Noem who had petitioned the EPA for a permanent waiver to allow gas retailers to sell E15 year-round in their respective states. Since then, one state has joined in on the request.
And while the Biden Administration championed E15 last summer, the EPA hasn’t yet responded to this request. This past week a bipartisan coalition of seven Attorneys General including South Dakota has sent a letter to the EPA Administrator urging the Biden Administration to adhere to the law and respond to these Governors. The end result according to law should allow South Dakota to sell E15 year-round.
Increasing higher blends of ethanol is a win for not only our environment through improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions but also for the American corn farmer. It helps consumers save at the pump which is extremely helpful when we all have to tighten our belts in this tough economy. Ethanol has always been a great success story in South Dakota and year-round E15 sales will provide needed certainty to the market place for allowing access to higher blends at the pump.
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, South Dakota is the seventh largest ethanol producer in the nation with 51% of the total corn crop used for ethanol production. Not only does this help to stabilize market prices for corn farmers, it also enriches every community that South Dakota’s 16 ethanol plants operate in. They employ nearly 26,000 full-time employees and impact surrounding household incomes by $2 billion every year!
We are waiting and watching for the EPA’s response and are hopeful that E15 is moving forward to becoming an every-day, year-round choice for South Dakotans who are looking to not only help the environment but save a few bucks at the pump.
E15 Facts from the Department of Energy
E15 is a low-level blend composed of 10.5% to 15% ethanol and gasoline. It has a higher-octane rating to improve engine performance, typically costs less than regular unleaded fuel, and is sold at more than 2,000 fueling stations in 30 states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved using E15 in vehicles built before 2001 and newer passenger cars, light trucks, and medium-duty vehicles.
Good to Know! E15 is also known as Unleaded 88 or UNL88 at the Pump