Today, U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin commented on the approval of a waiver request to allow blending of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline for light duty vehicles from model years 2007 and later. A March 2009 application submitted by Growth Energy, on behalf of a coalition of ethanol producers, asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve an ethanol-gasoline blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol by volume, commonly known as E15, for use in the nation's fuel supply.
"This long overdue but welcome decision will cover an estimated 43 million motor vehicles and benefit South Dakota producers by beginning to expand markets for ethanol across the nation. Equally crucial is the expected approval later this year of E15 for model years 2001 to 2006, which would then cover a substantial amount of the vehicles on our nation's roads, create jobs, and promise millions of consumers greater choice at the pump," said Herseth Sandlin. "South Dakota is already leading the way in the production and use of renewable biofuels, and approval of E15 not only helps consumers, but keeps our nation on track to promote economic development in rural states and cut our dependence on foreign oil."
In April 2009, Herseth Sandlin led the bipartisan effort in House of Representatives to win approval of the E15 waiver. She and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) led a bipartisan coalition of House members in fighting for the approval of the use of higher blends of ethanol in standard motor vehicles and writing to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging approval of the E15 waiver.
In December 2009, Herseth Sandlin called EPA to account for its initial delay of a decision on the waiver request.
In June 2010, after a second delay in EPA's decision-making process, Herseth Sandlin called on EPA and the Department of Energy, which oversaw the vehicle testing of E15, to "lead, follow or get out of the way."
Soon after EPA's announcement, in July 2010, Herseth Sandlin met with DOE Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi, whose office oversaw vehicle testing of E15, and EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, whose office is overseeing the waiver decision. At their meeting, Rep. Herseth Sandlin expressed concerns over the continued delays, urged reliance on the science showing E15's compatibility, and urged expeditious approval E15. Rep. Herseth Sandlin was assured that a decision on 2007 and later model year vehicles would be made in the fall of 2010 and a decision on 2001 to 2006 vehicles would be made later in 2010.