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SD lawmakers, lobbyists applaud EPA's rule-change allowing year-round E15 sales

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota state and federal lawmakers are applauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s decision to ease regulations on E15 fuel.

Previously, E15 — a fuel blend consisting of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol — could only be sold eight months out of the year without a special waiver. On Thursday, May 30, the EPA issued its final ruling allowing E15 to be sold year-round.

South Dakota lawmakers welcomed the news, which came as farmers struggle with low commodity prices, an ongoing tariff war and a treacherous growing season. Agriculture is South Dakota's number one industry, and corn is one of its most produced crops.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said in a Friday statement that the EPA's move is a step toward stabilizing the difficult agriculture economy.

“South Dakota is a national leader in ethanol production, and this move by the EPA will remove unnecessary federal regulations and present further market opportunities for producers, bringing benefits directly to our farmers and local economies, easing the impact of high gas prices on our pocketbooks, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil," she said.

According to a statement from U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, producers could sell approximately 700 million gallons more of ethanol per year, equal to 280 million bushels of corn, due to the change. Rounds also said that E15 produces less evaporative and tailpipe emissions than typical 90% gasoline, 10% ethanol fuel blends.

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, called the rule change "a win-win for consumers, farmers and clean air in South Dakota," and said the EPA's previous E15 regulations were "arbitrary."

“Consumers should have the freedom to put what they want in their gas tanks," he said in a statement. "Year-round E15 will give consumers the freedom to choose a more affordable option at the pump, while promoting cleaner fuel options."

In a written statement, President of South Dakota Corn Growers Doug Noem said filling up with E15 could cost 3 to 10 cents less per gallon than typical 90-10 fuel blends. He called the EPA's ruling "a big deal for farmers, consumers, the ethanol industry and rural America."

Senate Majority Whip and U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, celebrated the rule-change, as well, but said there is more work still to be done.

"While there’s no doubt this will reinforce our energy independence and be well-received by producers in the Midwest and Great Plains, there is more that can and should be done to further strengthen renewable fuels and the broader agriculture economy, and it’s something I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and with the administration to achieve," he said in a statement.