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Guest Editorial: The EPA Needs to Approve E15
by John Hoeven, Governor of North Dakota

Early in the decade, we in the State of North Dakota took aggressive steps to promote the production, marketing, and use of ethanol in our state. As a result, in just a few short years, we saw ethanol production capacity in North Dakota grow ten-fold. This not only helped North Dakota’s economy, but also helped America become more secure and less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

In fact, the story has been much the same for the nation. Last year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry produced a record 10.6 billion gallons of ethanol and supported nearly 400,000 jobs. America’s ethanol producers contributed .3 billion dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product and helped to raise individual household incomes by billion dollars. Back in 2000, ethanol consumption was just 1 percent of the U.S. gasoline consumption, but is expected to reach almost 9 percent in 2010. For the first time ever, it appears gasoline consumption is down and ethanol consumption is up.

Despite notable progress, however, the industry today clearly faces challenges. A combination of lower gasoline prices, higher corn prices and tight credit owing to the national recession put pressure on the industry last year. Add to that higher ethanol inventories and sluggish gasoline use this year, and it looks as though we are about to hit the ethanol blend wall.

To break through that wall, we will need to raise the allowable blend to a higher level, from E10 to E15, providing consumers with more choice at the pump and the industry with a 50 percent larger market for blended fuel. That is precisely what we have been aggressively working to do for more than a year, urging the President and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a waiver for E15 use, reducing an unnecessary regulatory market restraint on blended fuel.

During my tenure as Chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, we closely studied the impacts of an increase in ethanol-gasoline blend to 15 percent ethanol by volume, and the conclusions were clear: real benefits result for consumers, businesses, the environment, and our nation if we raise the allowable ethanol blends.

In fact, the EPA waiver we have been seeking is a fiscally effective means to provide more choice for consumers, reduce transportation fuel emissions, expand domestic jobs growth, and help keep fuel prices affordable. Increased production resulting from the waiver and its adoption across the country will result in an estimated 136,000 new jobs, according to North Dakota State University. These jobs result from diminished oil imports and not the shifting of one energy job to another within the U.S. economy.

Also, approving E15 will help the nation meet the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard and open the market for emerging second-generation biofuels like cellulosic biomass. Most importantly, it will help to promote greater energy independence for America and greater security for future generations of Americans. As of December 2009, the EPA had postponed its decision until midsummer 2010. We continue to urge the agency to move forward with the final decision to increase the allowable fuel blend.

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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