Group Rallies to Protest During EPA Administrator’s Visit to South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is in South Dakota this week and dozens of farmers, ranchers and producers want to get his attention.

At a large gathering at the Falls Park Farmer’s Market this morning, people rallied against what they’re calling the EPA’s “War On Bio-Fuels.”

“Administrator Pruitt, Do you hear us?” asked District 19 Rep. Kent Peterson in front of the large crowd.

It’s a message they say they want Administrator Pruitt to hear, loud and clear.

“Please do your job,” said Rep. Peterson.

Ethanol advocates say they want Pruitt to drop EPA regulations on E15 selling the fuel at gas stations is currently restricted from June to September.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with trade; an easy fix to uncertainty for us would be to grant us the E15 waiver that we’re asking for.” Said Troy Knecht, President of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.

Ethanol is part of South Dakota’s leading industry – Agriculture – and generates billions in revenue each year.

“Our 16 ethanol plants consume nearly 400 million bushels last year. We produce over a billion gallons of ethanol in South Dakota and the industry delivers a $4 billion economic boost to our South Dakota economy every year,” said Rep. Peterson.

But the group says the ethanol industry is taking a hit – not only from E15 regulations – but also some of Administrator Pruitt’s recent actions.

“We’ve lost 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol to exemptions that the EPA Administrator has granted to refiners. That equals about 570 million bushels of corn,” said Knecht.

So while he’s here, South Dakotans want Pruitt to hear their pleas.

“These fuels are homegrown. And they’re very environmentally friendly compared to a lot of the components in fossil fuels,” said Gwen Biersbach Research Scientist at Poet.

“Biofuels are the future, there’s no if, and, or’s, about that,” said Aaron Worlie, who came to attend the rally.

The group say Pruitt’s backing of bio-fuels can go a long way.

“Today Fuel prices are surging. Everybody knows that. Grain prices are falling, everyone knows that around here. Ethanol is a solution for both and it’s time for the EPA to get out of the way,” said Doug Berven Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Poet.

Administrator Pruitt visited Reliance today.

In a tweet, he says he spoke directly with farmers and ranchers about the renewable fuel standard for ethanol that he issued the waivers for.

He noted it’s important to “listen and learn from our first environmentalists and continue to see them as our partners throughout this process.”