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EPA wants you -- to write what you think of E15

Agriculture.com Staff 04/16/2009 @ 2:34pm

If you're a corn farmer who wants higher prices fueled by more ethanol demand, or if you're a hog farmer with distillers grains running out your ears, you need to write the EPA.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency officially acknowledged a March 6 letter from Growth Energy and 54 ethanol makers asking for a waiver of rules that would allow up to 15% ethanol to be blended into gasoline. And it's asking the public what it thinks of the idea.

The current limit is 10% by volume for vehicles that haven't been modified to burn up to 85% ethanol.

The ethanol industry already produces about 11 billion gallons of ethanol, which is about 7% of the nation's fuel supply for gasoline vehicles.The industry has been worrying about hitting the 10% blend wall for more than a year. Until more E85 vehicles are on the road, 10% of the nation's fuel use (which is declining) is considered a practical limit for the amount of ethanol that can be sold.

Shortly after EPA put out the word that it's considering the waiver request, Republican Senator John Thune advised his constituents in South Dakota to contact EPA.

"I encourage South Dakotans to weigh in with the EPA and support the waiver request for E15 for use in non-flex fuel vehicles," said Thune. "Renewable fuels have been a great success story in both our attempts to reduce our overdependence on imported oil and the need to expand our use of renewable fuels. This expansion to higher blends is a critical step in expanding our biofuels industry and moving toward cellulosic ethanol."

South Dakota isn't the nation's biggest producer of ethanol. Iowa is. But a high percentage of the state's corn crop is fermented into fuel. And South Dakota is the home of POET, one of the nation's top producers of ethanol and a key player last year in establishing Growth Energy, a new lobbying group for the industry.

If you're a corn farmer who wants higher prices fueled by more ethanol demand, or if you're a hog farmer with distillers grains running out your ears, you need to write the EPA.

For months, Thune has been urging other senators and leaders of the U.S. auto industry to support a waiver of Clean Air Act regulations in order to allow blending up to 15% ethanol into gasoline. Some testing has already shown that E-15 doesn't harm performance of conventional automobile engines and that some higher blends may even improve mileage slightly.

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