SD delegation fights changes to ethanol standard

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 26, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: January 26, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a deadline nears for comments, South Dakota's congressional delegation is pushing the Obama administration to reverse course on proposed changes that would significantly reduce the amount of ethanol in the country's fuel supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in November it was proposing reductions by nearly 3 billion gallons in the amount of biofuels required to be blended into gasoline in 2014. The EPA has said the additive had become less necessary in light of fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.

A deadline for comments on the proposed change is Tuesday. South Dakota's delegation hit out at the changes as soon as they were announced and has continued to push the Obama administration to reconsider.

The latest effort came last week as Sens. John Thune, a Republican, and Tim Johnson, a Democrat, signed onto a letter with 29 other senators to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Among other things, the letter says the U.S. would be more reliant on foreign oil if the proposed changes go forward and that farmers would be hurt most by the changes.

"The Administration's proposal is a significant step backward — undermining the goal of increasing biofuels production as a domestic alternative to foreign oil consumption," the letter reads. "Further, the proposed waiver places at risk both the environmental benefits from ongoing development of advanced biofuels and rural America's economic future."

The letter from senators comes after a similar missive sent last week from members of the House. That letter was signed by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., who has led House opposition to proposed changes. The letter says that the changes could put the renewable fuel industry at risk.

"The significant reduction in renewable volume obligations under this proposed rule could destabilize the renewable fuel industry and send the wrong message to investors," the letter reads. "This risks jobs and threatens the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels that bring higher-level ethanol and biodiesel blends to consumers."

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