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Six Democratic presidential contenders face off in Nevada; and ballot security issues in play.

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Seeking to Put More SD Crops in the Gas Tank

December 4, 2008

Wilmot, SD - Should billions of taxpayer dollars be used to bail out the automobile industry? It's a question before policymakers again this week. South Dakota Farmers Union E-85 Action Team chairman Orrie Swayze says the discussion should include a challenge to the automakers to fully embrace using a higher blend of ethanol in their vehicles, regardless if they're flex fuel or not. He says a U.S. Department of energy study released in October concluded no drivability or operating issues were observed in 13 non-flex vehicles when using a blend that was higher than 10 percent ethanol.

"People are beginning to ask questions. Why can the auto industry limit 99 percent of Americans to 10 percent ethanol blends? Why are they saying the engines are different when I'm sitting here looking at a parts book from GM that says the engines are the same for a 2005 Silverado flex-fuel and non flex-fuel vehicle? We're not getting the truth from the auto industry on these engines and what they're capable of doing."

Auto companies say allowing higher blends of ethanol in non-flex vehicles could cause harm to the ethanol industry's reputation if a warranty is voided because of possible damage to a non-flex vehicle. But Swayze says that voiding a warranty would be highly unlikely because every car made in America today can already burn up to half E-85 blends. He also questions why the nation would rather transfer its wealth to OPEC and other nations.

"Iran's economy is now in trouble because oil prices have gone down. So, why wouldn't we use our own fuel and keep our money here rather than ship it to somebody else? Why wouldn't we want to clean up our environment? One of the biggest toxics in the environment is gasoline and benzene, and those carcinogens all base from gasoline."

Swayze says if the auto industry had openly embraced allowing up to half E-85 for all their standard vehicles that the ethanol industry would still be vibrant and growing. He says the choice of using higher ethanol blends should be left to the American public.

David Law, Public News Service - SD