Year-round E15 sales stand to bring long-term benefits to S.D. consumers, ag economy

June 20, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by POET.

Thanks to a recent ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency, consumers now can fill up with E15 — a clean-burning fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol — year-round. Previously, E15 sales were restricted in South Dakota and most other markets from June to Sept. 15. The fuel can save consumers up to 10 cents per gallon and is approved for use in cars from 2001 or newer.

One of the local fuel retailers that offers E15 is Iowa-based Kum & Go, which has five locations in Sioux Falls that sell E15.

“Our customers ask for E15, a cleaner-burning, higher-octane fuel, regardless of the season, so the announcement is a win all around,” said Sam Herro, director of fuel for Kum & Go.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from year-round E15 sales. The E15 ruling also sets the wheels in motion for boosting ethanol sales nationwide and pumping life back into a struggling ag economy across the Midwest. Nationwide adoption of E15 is expected to drive the production of 7 billion gallons of biofuels, creating an additional demand for 2 billion bushels of corn each year and unlocking new domestic demand for homegrown fuels at a critical time for America’s farmers.

The announcement was praised by South Dakota farmers, politicians, local leaders and many others who interact with agribusiness.

“Year-round sales of E15 is incredible news for both South Dakota farmers and consumers,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “At the city of Sioux Falls, we fully appreciate the impact renewable fuels have on our economy and environment, which is why we are in the process of transitioning fleet and fuel stations to E15 and eventually to E30. I applaud the EPA’s efforts on this issue.”

Now that E15 will be a constant, ethanol can move into the system more readily throughout the year, noted Matthew Diersen, a professor in the Ness School of Management and Economics at South Dakota State University and SDSU Extension specialist.

“From a farming perspective, that should mean an increased demand for corn, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

Biofuels and ag industry advocates see the announcement as a critical milestone for the industry that is the result of more than a decade of hard work by many connected to the industry, including congressional champions, farmers and biofuels advocates across the heartland.

“We could not have achieved this milestone without the strong support from our biofuels champions and elected officials across the state. We extend our thanks and appreciation to Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds, Rep. Dusty Johnson, Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken for their efforts in helping us secure this victory and promoting the benefits of biofuels,” said Kyle Gilley, senior vice president of external affairs and communications at POET.

For farmers like Scott Stahl, who lives near Emery, the news of year-round E15 availability comes at an opportune time with farmers facing financial stress. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the amount of debt currently held by America’s farmers reflects a level of strain not seen since the ag crisis of the 1980s.

“Farmers are really excited about E15. It’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for consumers. Ethanol’s been proven to be better for the environment. It’s a win for the farmer because it creates more demand for our product when it comes time to take it to market,” said Stahl, who is the vice president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.

“Importantly, in regards to the business climate and the economy right here in southeast South Dakota and Sioux Falls, it’s huge. The dollars that are regenerated through the community by our corn are being used right here in South Dakota.”

A boost to the ag economy can create a ripple effect across many sectors, Diersen said. An uplift in the agricultural sector, which is the state’s top industry, stands to benefit the statewide economy, including hubs like Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

“When the farm or production ag sector is doing well, farmers and ranchers are employing more people and making more profits and spending more dollars. A lot of those dollars will flow into major hubs in those areas,” he said.

The banking sector is another example of a connection between what’s happening throughout the state and its localized impact in Sioux Falls. “You have a large number of ag lenders across South Dakota; most of them have some exposure in South Dakota. The lending providing capital to agriculture is very relevant and necessary,” Diersen said.

The ethanol industry makes a significant impact to economic growth and job creation in South Dakota and across the Midwest. More than 200 ethanol plants power economic growth across the heartland, supporting more than 350,000 jobs and a stronger farm economy.

POET also is strengthening the local economy, generating more than $2.05 billion in business revenue, $38.4 million in state and local taxes and $384.4 million in household earnings within South Dakota.

Click here to find an E15 retail station near you.

What is E15?

  • Burns cleaner and cooler, which is good for engines.
  • Sold as Unleaded 88 in other markets.
  • EPA-approved for cars 2001 or newer.
  • Saves consumers up to 10 cents per gallon compared to traditional fuel.
  • Available at more than 1,800 stations across 31 states.

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Year-round E15 sales stand to bring long-term benefits to S.D. consumers, ag economy

“It’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for consumers. Ethanol’s been proven to be better for the environment. It’s a win for the farmer because it creates more demand for our product when it comes time to take it to market.” E15 is now here all year. Here’s what it means to you and the local economy.

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