Turbocharging South Dakota’s economy while making Americans healthier

Source: By Doug Sombke and Jim Seurer, Sioux Falls Argus Leader • Posted: Monday, August 3, 2020

During President Trump’s Fourth of July visit to Mount Rushmore, our organizations sponsored an ad in the Rapid City Journal that urged the President to “tear down the wall” that his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unlawfully erected to block the use of high-octane, low-carbon blends like E30. By showing decisive leadership, the president could more than double the ethanol industry’s multi-billion-dollar contribution to South Dakota’s economy and at the same time dramatically reduce Americans’ exposure to invisible, but extremely harmful fine particulates produced by gasoline.

South Dakota’s economy has two primary pillars: the ethanol industry and tourism, each of which generates more than $4 billion annually in economic activity in the form of jobs, multiplier effects and tax payments. As the coronavirus surges nationwide, our state’s tourism industry could be adversely impacted for years to come, which means ethanol’s economic contributions are more important than ever.

The corn ethanol industry’s explosive growth was ignited by the bipartisan legislative achievements of South Dakota Sens. Tom Daschle and John Thune, who spearheaded the enactment of the first Renewable Fuels Standard that was first passed in 2005 and modified in 2007.

Today, nearly all U.S. gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol, or E10. Motorists fill up with E10 blends in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, and Dallas every day. Literally trillions of trouble-free miles are driven on ethanol blends each year, disproving the oil industry’s dire warnings.

For many years now, South Dakota has led the way in proving that E30 blends can be used effectively in any vehicle. In fact, our Watertown E30 Challenge conclusively proved that E30’s high octane and more complete combustion improves vehicle performance, enabling more power, emitting less pollution, and saving consumers billions of dollars at the pump.

For 30 years, EPA has refused to enforce a mandatory law that requires it to reduce gasoline’s carcinogenic compounds to the “greatest achievable extent” by replacing them with ethanol’s superior, safe, low-carbon “clean octane.” With a stroke of his pen, President Trump could force EPA to do its job and comply with Congressional intent.

Even more importantly, recent studies indicate that this action could save more lives than previously thought — especially in light of research suggesting that the coronavirus may be transmitted via aerosols — aerosols which EPA has recently admitted are amplified and preserved by gasoline aromatics’ SOA-bound toxics.

More than ever before, urban Americans need safer fuels that America’s farmers can provide cost effectively and efficiently. There is no need to wait for Congress—all we need is for this President, or the next, to rise to this “monumental challenge.”

— Doug Sombke, Huron, president of the South Dakota Farmers Union, and Jim Seurer,  CEO of Glacial Lakes Energy in Watertown