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Why Nebraska’s Governor Is a Champion of Biofuels

Submitted by on June 7, 2018 – 4:04 pmNo Comment

(Urban Air Initiative)  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts recently declared May as Renewable Fuels Month to draw attention to clean burning biofuel options. He’s focused on grassroot efforts to educate and expand access of  mid-level blends for his citizens. Urban Air believes states and grassroots efforts can help pave the way and open the market to mid-level blends.

Urban Air asked Governor Ricketts a series of questions about how others can follow Nebraska’s lead and push higher ethanol blends locally. Below are some of his answers.

Governors can also lead by example.  In Nebraska, we require all vehicles purchased by the state to be flex fuel vehicles or E15 compatible.  We have also converted state fuel dispensers from E10 to E15 in many locations, so our fleet runs on E15 or E85 whenever possible.  And we have a request in front of the EPA right now to allow the State of Nebraska to conduct a pilot project with our state vehicle fleet and higher ethanol blends.

Nebraska continues to support fuel infrastructure at the retail level to increase ethanol fueling sites and support higher ethanol blends.  I‘ve offered to talk with fuel terminal operators to encourage 15 percent ethanol blending – a customer preference – to make it easier to access the E15 product at the terminal.  We also evaluate proactive steps taken by other states, including incentives or standards that encourage biofuel use.  A trend toward increased integration of biofuels in the fuel we use in the state is one that will continue to generate cost savings for consumers and state government.

It is clear the EPA needs to do more, and I have expressed our concerns about the biofuel waivers they have granted to refiners.

Scott Pruitt is accessible and responsive to my inquiries.  During our conversations in Washington DC and at the Nebraska Capitol, I have made clear the need for RVP relief for E15 and higher ethanol blends.  I have also noted the need for revisions in EPA’s fuel modeling, and RIN price issues can be resolved by introducing more ethanol in the domestic market.

For about a month, the EPA has been reviewing a request to approve a pilot project using higher ethanol blends in state vehicles.

This project is a multi-state collaboration that will allow us to gain data relevant to the use of higher ethanol blends.  Nebraska is taking the lead on this project but we are closely coordinating this activity with several other key states in the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, including Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  We consider the Nebraska pilot project to be a template that other states could use to gain approval for similar fuel testing.

In many cases, ethanol producers work directly with marketers to reduce the cost of transporting ethanol to retail locations.  Fuel blending programs outside terminals are getting traction via flex fuel systems and innovative marketing practices adopted by a few wholesalers who have retail locations.  Favorable ethanol fuel pricing is a key factor in consumer acceptance.

Funding infrastructure development is one important partnership between state government, ethanol producers and advocacy organizations.  As new fuel choices are offered at more retail locations, consumers become better acquainted with these options and the lower prices.  Benefits like higher octane, fewer toxic emissions, and lower cost have a positive influence on consumer acceptance. 

We need to do more around educating the public.  Certainly, the air quality and health benefits of cleaner-burning fuels are important.

Biofuel advocates, transportation planners, and health professionals should continue to emphasize the role biofuels play in mitigating transportation-related pollution. READ MORE

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