According to the U.S. Department of Energy, South Dakota accounted for about 7% of total U.S. fuel ethanol production in 2017 — while in 2019, the state ranked sixth in the nation for ethanol production capacity.
Now, U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune, along with U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, all R-S.D., are cheering a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to deny requests by oil refineries to violate the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires that gasoline contain ethanol.
“The EPA’s excessive issuance of Small Refinery Exemptions has undermined the integrity of the RFS for years, harming South Dakota corn and corn ethanol producers by reducing demand,” Rounds, a Fort Pierre resident, said.
“Over the past year, I have been working with a handful of senators and President Trump to make sure the EPA requires 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol to be blended into our fuel supply. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction to make sure that happens,” Rounds added on Monday.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said since March, “17 small refineries in 14 states in seven federal judicial circuits have submitted 68 individual petitions asking EPA either to reconsider exemption denials (1) or grant exemptions for prior years in which the refineries had not sought them (54).”
“These small refineries have not demonstrated disproportionate economic hardship in 2020 for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance years 2011 through 2018 when those same refineries already successfully complied with those prior RFS obligations,” Wheeler stated in making his decision.
“Administrator Wheeler’s rejection of these gap year waiver petitions is welcome news for the American ethanol industry and our farmers,” Thune said. “Not only is this decision consistent with the RFS, it helps uphold President Trump’s commitments to our homegrown biofuels industry.”
Johnson said the measure should provide the ethanol industry with more certainty concerning the marketplace.
“I’m encouraged the Trump administration is taking steps to deny refinery blending waivers. We need to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and the biofuels industry deserves long-term certainty,” Johnson added.