Eliminating barriers to higher level blends of ethanol is one way to lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil and relieve high prices at the gas pump, says North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne.

“Ethanol and biofuels can, and should, play a much bigger role in our nation’s energy security,” Watne said. “We, as farmers, can grow an abundant, renewable source of fuel from the ground. But there are long-standing regulatory barriers that are preventing the expansion of renewable fuels.”

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, one-third of the U.S. crude oil supply came from foreign sources in 2021. At the same time, the use of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply reduced crude oil imports by over 530 million barrels. However, that number isn’t a highwater mark as required levels of ethanol production under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law were reduced, beginning in 2016 when the Environmental Protection Agency granted RFS production waivers to oil refineries.

Watne said the role of the RFS is to set annual production requirements of oil refineries to increase the amount of ethanol and biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

Farmers Union supports full implementation of the RFS, year-round use of E15 (marketed as Unleaded88) and elimination of barriers to mid-level ethanol blends, including E30. The organization also supports the approval of other crops, such as canola, as feedstock for renewable diesel.

“Ethanol has proven to be an affordable, safe-for-your-engine, high-octane fuel with low carbon emissions. It is a solution to a lot of our energy issues, including our dependence on foreign oil,” Watne said. “With ethanol running about 70¢ a gallon lower at the pump compared to regular gasoline right now, it’s helping a lot of pocketbooks.”