Growing a renewable future in Nebraska
At the very heart of Nebraska agriculture, a synergistic relationship between corn, ethanol, and livestock has been helping grow our state for decades. Ethanol producers use corn feedstocks to produce high-quality biofuels. Many cattle feeders prefer distillers grain, an ethanol byproduct, as they prepare corn-fed beef for the market. This relationship between corn, cattle, and ethanol, known as the “Golden Triangle,” benefits our farm and ranch families and helps grow opportunities across our state.
In May, we celebrate Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska to highlight the big impact biofuels have on our state’s economy. Biofuels, including ethanol, help grow our economy, provide good jobs to thousands of Nebraskans, promote clean air, and showcase Nebraska’s innovation and leadership.
In 2017, Nebraska had the capacity to produce over 2.1 billion gallons of ethanol. The ethanol industry directly employs over 1,300 Nebraskans and indirectly supports many more jobs. As demand for corn, soybeans, and other agricultural products is raised by the biofuels industry, prices improve for Nebraska’s farmers. For example, biodiesel adds 74 cents per bushel to the value of soybeans.
Last week, I attended a ribbon cutting event for new flex fuel pumps at the Bosselman Travel Center in Grand Island. These new pumps will distribute thousands of gallons of biofuels to the many travelers crossing our state on Interstate 80. Over the past couple of years, my team and the Nebraska Energy Office has been working with the Corn Board and Ethanol Board to install more flex fuel pumps in communities across the state. As new flex fuel pumps like these pop up across Nebraska, demand for biofuels will grow even more.
Biofuels and flex fuel pumps are also important for helping promote clean air and energy independence. Corn ethanol, soy biodiesel, and other biofuels burn more cleanly and help reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Last year, renewable fuels replaced 540 million barrels of imported oil and 2.9 million gallons of imported diesel.
As the Governor of Nebraska, I have consistently advocated for renewable fuels at both state and federal levels. For the past couple of years, I have served as the chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition. This role led me to testify in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in front of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is a key regulator of the biofuels industry, and the agency’s support is key to keeping renewable fuels growing.
The EPA’s prime responsibility to the biofuels industry is maintaining a robust RFS. The RFS, which was passed in 2005, has helped to nearly quadruple Nebraska’s ethanol production. Since then, Nebraska increased ethanol production capacity from 566 million gallons to over 2.1 billion gallons. Nebraska is now the second-largest producer of ethanol in the country. In the past couple of years, ethanol plants in Adams, Fairmont, Jackson, Ravenna, and other communities have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology. These investments have increased the capacity and product diversification of their operations.
We have also continued to push the EPA to expand other opportunities for biofuels. Right now, federal regulation limits when higher blends of ethanol can be sold. I have been urging the Trump Administration to allow E-15 to be sold year-round. Last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reaffirmed that President Trump has directed the EPA to move forward with E-15, and we will continue to work with the agency as they follow through on the President’s directive. Secretary Perdue and I also discussed the ethanol industry’s concerns about the number of RFS waivers the EPA has granted to oil refineries. In addition to E-15, I have asked the EPA to allow the State of Nebraska to conduct a pilot project with our state vehicle fleet and higher ethanol blends.
As your Governor, I will continue to support biofuels here at home, around the nation, and abroad. The Golden Triangle underpins the success of Nebraska agriculture, and we will continue to work to help the industry thrive. If you want to share your thoughts on how to expand opportunities in the biofuels industry in our state, I hope you will share them. Give my office a call at 402-471-2244 or email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Pete Ricketts is the governor of the State of Nebraska.