The members of South Dakota's congressional delegation are expressing contrary reactions to the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of blending higher concentrations of ethanol into gasoline for newer vehicles.
The current maximum blend is 10 percent. The EPA announced Wednesday that the higher blend will be approved for vehicles manufactured since 2007.
The federal agency didn't go far enough, Republican Sen. John Thune said Wednesday, adding that tests have shown mixtures with up to 15 percent of the corn-based fuel are suitable for older on-road vehicles.
"Limiting the approval of E15 to only vehicles made since 2007 will have very little effect on the overall production and use of E15 and will lead to unnecessary consumer confusion at the gas pump," Thune said.
But Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson said the move is "a small but good step for the ethanol industry."
The move will lead to more jobs in South Dakota and help the U.S. move away from foreign energy sources, Johnson said.
"I'm hoping they will be expanding this to 2001 model year cars by the end of the year," he said. "This is a step forward in expanding the marketplace for biofuels."
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said the EPA's approval was a "long overdue but welcomed decision will cover an estimated 43 million motor vehicles and benefit South Dakota producers by beginning to expand markets for ethanol across the nation."
Herseth Sandlin's Republican challenger in the November election, Kristi Noem, blasted the expansion, saying "it simply isn't enough."
"Unfortunately, the EPA's decision is a year late and billions of gallons short of expanding the market for ethanol in a significant manner," Noem said.
South Dakota produces more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol a year - the fifth largest amount among the 50 states.