Farm group seeks changes to benefit ethanol

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. — Speaking at the National Farmers Union National Convention on Feb. 26, South Dakota Chapter President Doug Sombke said ethanol advocates need to prioritize support for a high octane standard in the new fuel economy rule that could triple demand for ethanol over the next decade.

Sombke and NFU are spearheading a “Repeal & Replace” campaign along with ethanol producers and other organizations to ensure the announced revision of the previous administration’s Safe Affordable Fuel Efficiency rule increases the minimum octane standard in U.S. gasoline and recognizes the significant carbon sequestration benefits of corn ethanol.

Sombke noted that the EPA had previously requested comments on octane and how it could be increased consistent with Title II of the Clean Air Act, which includes the requirement that the agency limit toxic and carcinogenic aromatic compounds currently used for octane.

“A 98-100 Research Octane Number would open the market for high octane, low carbon ethanol blends like E30,” said Sombke. “Automakers have confirmed that they can significantly increase efficiency with this level of octane. Using ethanol, we reduce carbon emissions to meet not only climate-change goals but to protect against particulate emissions that can carry COVID-19 and other viruses.”

With the future of the RFS uncertain after 2022, it is critical that ethanol create new demand, he said, and ethanol is well positioned to contribute to the Biden administration’s goals of climate, health, environmental justice, and renewable energy. He also dismissed any immediate threat of electric vehicles, pointing out that with 270 million gasoline-powered cars on the road and 15 million more being sold every year there will be continued reliance on gasoline. Less than 2%of current vehicles are electric, with most experts predicting an increase to just 5% over the next decade.

And, he added, the EPA is required to reduce the toxics in gasoline. “They need to do their job and protect public health now, regardless of if and when we see EVs make a significant impact on the auto market.”

He continued, “We are seeing new science emerging every day with respect to the carbon sequestration value of corn, making corn ethanol’s ghg reductions superior to anything in the market today. Couple that with promising test results on E30 here in South Dakota and in the soon-to-be-released state test in Nebraska and we have a great story to tell.

“That is why our mantra needs to be high octane and low carbon to ensure we can address the core of the problem which, for the foreseeable future, is gasoline.”