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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Speed Up Testing for Ethanol Blended into Gasoline Supply


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Nelson Urges President To Move Quickly On E15

In response to continuing EPA and Department of Energy delays, today Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson and six colleagues sent a letter to President Obama urging him to speed up testing that could allow the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply to rise from the current 10 percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15). That would expand Nebraska's production of domestic, renewable energy, provide jobs and help reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced late last week that it will postpone a decision on E15 until later this year. The EPA has postponed a decision several times since its original deadline of December 2009 because the Department of Energy has not yet completed its scheduled testing of higher blends of ethanol gasoline on automobiles.

"Ethanol is a clean, safe, homegrown fuel that brings jobs to the heartland, decreases our dependence on foreign sources of fuel, and reduces pollution," said Senator Nelson. "I urge the President to do everything in his power to expedite a decision on E15. If the E10 cap remains in place, US production of ethanol will soon exceed our capacity to use the fuel in our cars and trucks. By kicking the can down the road, the federal government further delays next generation development of American renewable energy and hurts our ability to meet coming renewable energy standards."

According to the Nebraska state government, there are currently 24 ethanol production plants in the state, with a combined production capacity of over 2 billion gallons of ethanol each year. These ethanol plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment to some 1,200 Nebraskans. Nebraska ranks second nationally in ethanol production.

In addition to Senator Nelson, the letter is signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Al Franken (D-MN). The full text is below:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

In the wake of the worst oil spill in our nation's history, we believe our government should operate with a great sense of urgency to utilize more homegrown biofuels. I know you share this view since you have on many occasions highlighted the importance of biofuels to our economy and our national energy security.

We recently learned that the Department of Energy has not yet completed its scheduled testing of higher blends of ethanol gasoline. The completion of this testing would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a waiver for gasoline with blends of ethanol higher than 10 percent. We are writing to express our serious concerns about this delay and ask you to expedite this testing.

In December, EPA was supposed to issue its decision on whether to approve a waiver to increase the allowable blend of ethanol in gasoline. Instead, EPA indicated that it planned to issue a waiver by the summer of 2010 so that it could use the time to obtain data needed to support the waiver. Unfortunately, it now appears that DOE has not provided the testing data in time for EPA to issue its waiver this summer. I urge you to use all available means to ensure that DOE's testing is completed as soon as possible so that both consumers and our biofuels industry are not further harmed by this delay.

As you know, Congress has set a national goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. To meet this target it is vitally important that our domestic biofuel production continues to grow--unhindered by the 10 percent by volume limit for ethanol in gasoline blends. It has become very clear that a higher blend is feasible and any delay in implementing it is now at the doors of the DOE.

Now more than ever we need to focus our attention on diversifying our energy supply. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and we look forward to working with you to help bring about the necessary transition to a new energy economy. Please do everything you can to expedite the gathering of this data.


Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Tim Johnson
Senator Ben Nelson
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Al Franken

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