May 5, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Supporting Year-Round E15

May 5, 2023

In May we celebrate Renewable Fuels Month and highlight the importance of biofuels. Nebraska farmers and ranchers fuel the world through the production of biofuels like ethanol. Our state is the second largest producer of ethanol, representing 2.3 billion gallons per year. Nebraska’s 24 ethanol plants boost our state’s economy by $5.7 billion per year. E15, gasoline with ethanol blends of 10.5%-15%, is a win for Nebraska and a win for our country. It saves drivers money, is good for the environment, and creates jobs here in America.

First, especially as high costs of living continue to cost Nebraska families, ethanol saves consumers money at the pump. One study showed consumers have been able to save up to 30 cents a gallon during the summer months, leading to total savings of $84 million in gasoline costs. These savings will only increase as more stations offer higher blends like E15 through the summer months.

Second, ethanol helps clean our environment. According to the USDA, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 52% compared to gasoline. E15 reduces emissions of particulate matter by 18%, carbon monoxide by 17%, and NOx by 3% compared to E10. The use of ethanol blended fuels led to a reduction of nearly 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2020.

Third, ethanol creates jobs here in America and promotes our energy security. In addition to the 1,400 jobs directly created by Nebraska’s 24 ethanol plants, ethanol production generates demand for locally grown corn and increases the price farmers are paid for their harvest. Forty-six percent of corn grown in Nebraska is used to make ethanol, and one study estimated that farmers in the immediate vicinity of ethanol facilities received about 21.3 cents more per bushel for their corn.

Ethanol also promotes our domestic energy security. The use of ethanol reduced crude oil imports by over 600 million barrels in 2022. Without biofuels, America would be more heavily reliant on foreign energy sources. There’s no reason why the United States should be reliant on authoritarian regimes like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela for fuel when we have home-grown solutions in our own Heartland.

Despite all these benefits, regulatory uncertainty has prevented the year-round sale of E15 from becoming permanent. Thankfully, the EPA recently announced an emergency waiver that will allow for the nationwide sale of E15 during the 2023 summer driving season. They also approved a request I made with other Midwestern governors last year to allow for the sale of E15 in several states during the summer of 2024. These recent announcements are good news, but our producers deserve a more permanent solution than bureaucratic waivers. That’s why I proudly co-sponsored Senator Deb Fischer’s Consumer Fuel Retailer Choice Act. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would eliminate the need for waivers by allowing year-round, nationwide sale of higher ethanol blends like E15.

E15 is a win for everyone. That’s why it enjoys bipartisan support. It is exactly the kind of proven Nebraska solution that is ready for America. The Senate needs to pass Senator Fischer’s bill and unleash nationwide, year-round E15 for good.

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, on my website www.ricketts.senate.gov, or via email contactricke@ricketts.senate.gov. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.