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E-15 Petition Deadline Tomorrow!

May 20, 2009

Huron, SD – South Dakota residents have one day left to express their opinion to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about allowing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline to be increased. A broad range of groups representing the ethanol industry and other supporters have come together to formally petition the EPA for a waiver to allow the use of higher blends of ethanol for motor vehicles.

South Dakotans have an opportunity to say how they feel about the issue by participating in an on-line petition. The petition link is

South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke urges increasing the ethanol blend in gasoline from the current 10 percent to 15 percent. He says that would give the nation's and state's economies a big lift.

"E-15 is a big deal for South Dakota. This isn't just a farmer's issue, this is a South Dakotan's issue. When I was speaking with South Dakota Agriculture secretary Bill Even last week, he feels we're going to have something. Whether it's going to be E-15 or not is yet to be decided, but we're definitely going to get something out of this."

Opponents say higher ethanol blends could harm older vehicle engines that were not designed for anything other than gasoline. But Sombke says South Dakotans are using blender pumps in many areas of the state to access even higher blends of ethanol, and no engine problems have been reported. The market for E-10 is nearly at the wall, he says, and increasing the blends to 15 percent would preserve the industry while ensuring the country can meet the Renewable Fuel Standards approved in the 2007 energy bill, which the Obama administration supports.

"I've got a feeling that with President Obama, how he tends to want to meet in the middle and come to a consensus with everyone, that maybe it won't end up being the 15, maybe it'll end up being a 12. I'm still pretty optimistic, still very supportive that this is something we need to do."

Sombke says the online petition can be signed through Thursday, May 21, which is the end of the EPA's public comment period on the E-15 waiver.

David Law, Public News Service - SD