August 4, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Protecting Access to Flex Fuel Vehicles

August 4, 2023

Earlier this year, the Biden administration proposed tailpipe emissions standards that would require up to two-thirds of new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to be electric vehicles in just eight years. These standards threaten the availability of gas-powered vehicles needed in agriculture. They also don’t consider how less densely populated states like Nebraska lack the infrastructure for electric vehicles. I condemned these detached-from-reality EPA mandates when they were first announced. Last week, I introduced the Flex Fuel Fairness Act to counter the negative impacts of Biden’s mandate. This legislation will encourage private sector innovation and level the playing field for a proven Nebraska solution: ethanol.

As written, the Biden EPA’s standards would tilt the scales in favor of electric vehicles (EVs). Big government mandates like this stifle private sector innovation. They also limit the potential of market-led solutions. Government bureaucrats have no business picking winners and losers like this. President Biden’s focus on expensive, burdensome EV mandates is a mistake that disregards the proven benefits of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are cars and trucks designed to accommodate higher ethanol blends like E30 and E85, which have 30% and 85% ethanol, respectively, in the fuel used to fill up the vehicle.

The Flex Fuel Fairness Act I introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) would level the playing field for FFVs. The bill adjusts the formula Biden’s EPA is using to mandate auto manufacturers move almost exclusively toward EVs. The bill instead encourages manufacturers also build more FFVs. Providing a meaningful incentive to encourage the manufacturing of FFVs would support the increased use of E30 and E85 across the country.

Biofuels like ethanol are a proven Nebraska solution that more states would benefit from embracing. The higher-blend ethanol gas that FFVs run on saves consumers money at the pump. It reduces our dependence on foreign oil and creates good jobs right here in America. It’s also good for the Nebraska farmers and ranchers who produce ethanol.

More FFVs would go a long way in combatting the worst impacts of the EPA’s regulation while still benefitting our environment. Department of Energy studies have shown that FFVs running E85 reduce lifecycle emissions by 31% compared to gasoline. Our bill would give auto manufactures who make FFVs the credit they deserve for doing that. More FFVs would also provide a different choice for consumers who don’t want to be forced into EVs. Additionally, instead of increasing dependence on foreign adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party who mine the minerals needed for EV batteries, FFVs increase the need for American-made biofuels.

There are a lot of ways to fight Biden’s overregulation nightmare. I’ve joined with Republicans in the House and Senate repeatedly to use Congressional Review Act legislation to attempt to overturn Biden’s mandates. I’m also proud to have worked with our Attorney General when I was Governor to fight them in the courts. The third option to attack these mandates is through legislation that changes the very rules Biden is using to enforce them. The Flex Fuel Fairness Act is one such effort.

In Nebraska, we let market-driven solutions dictate how we address challenges. Consumers make choices that work best for them and their families. The private sector innovates in response to consumers’ preferences. Government shouldn’t be dictating either. I continue to oppose these burdensome regulations and will use any method to fight them. The Flex Fuel Fairness Act is one way to do this and push back on the Biden administration’s top-down government approach.

Along with Senator Fischer and the rest of my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation, my team and I are here to serve you. Contact my team and I anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.