For years, I’ve been working to advance ethanol to benefit South Dakota farmers. Our state ranks sixth in the nation for ethanol production capacity, and we produce more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually. Not only does biofuel production help our farmers, but it also supports additional job creation in South Dakota. We have ethanol jobs ranging from truck drivers to PhD microbiologists. I have several pieces of good news to share regarding progress we’ve made on ethanol.
The EPA recently reiterated its commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS.) The RFS is crucial to ensure that there is a market for our farmers to sell their corn for ethanol production. President Trump also recently announced that E15 blends will be more widely available across the country. These are but the latest bits of progress for our crucial ethanol industry.
As chair of the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition, I’ve urged the Trump administration to drop restrictions on the ethanol industry, and we’ve already made progress on these goals. The Trump administration approved the use of E15 year-round. We also persuaded President Trump to reject a movement that would have waived portions of the RFS for small petroleum refineries. It’s been tough work, but it’s worth it to help South Dakota farmers.
We’ve been working diligently to convert our state’s fleet vehicles to be flex-fuel compatible, and 76% of our fleet now has such capabilities. We’re already dispensing E30 ethanol for state vehicles at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and the SDSU campus. By the end of November, we’ll have added sites in Aberdeen, Chamberlain, Yankton, Huron, and Webster, with four additional sites across the state in the works for next year. State government is leading by example, and it is my sincere hope that South Dakota’s businesses and citizens emulate this support for our ethanol industry.
As COVID-19 swept across the country, I issued an executive order to provide regulatory relief for ethanol facilities, and I instructed our state department of Environment and Natural Resources to help ethanol producers adjust their operations while still meeting federal requirements. I also joined fellow governors to ask United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to use CARES Act dollars to assist our biofuel industry. Secretary Perdue has taken that message to heart, pushing Congress to provide funding for ethanol in future relief packages.
The Obama administration paid lip service to ethanol, but President Trump is actually following through on his promises to farmers. His administration is taking the necessary steps to promote biofuels and expand ethanol production. Frankly, it takes leadership from the top, and I want to thank President Trump for continuing to fight for agriculture.
There is still more work to accomplish, but I’m confident that we can build on the progress that we’ve already made and get it done.