Ethanol backers tout fuel’s many benefits for Nebraska

Source: By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton, Nebraska Radio Network • Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014


On this Saint Patrick’s Day, there’s renewed discussion about the “green” fuel being produced in Nebraska.

Todd Becker, president of the Omaha-based Green Plains Renewable Energy, says corn-based ethanol is continuing to have an enormous impact on the state’s economy.

Becker says the value-added by-products are of great value, too, in addition to the two-billion gallons of fuel produced here every year.

“We produce several million tons of livestock feed as well, so the impact of ethanol on the state isn’t just on jobs but also tax revenue, on wages, on our impact for the combination when we talk about corn and livestock and ethanol living together.”

Becker says he’s still anxious to hear a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency on the volume obligations in the RFS, or renewable fuel standard. He says they’re expecting at least a partial ramp up of those requirements from what EPA originally proposed.

“We think we’ll have at least some positive adjustment to those numbers to reflect absolute real gas demand,” Becker says. “We’ve made our argument to the economic council and the White House and the EPA and USDA and we’ve got broad support and I think some of those arguments, especially around gas demand, is really what’s going to drive the decision.”

Becker says with the economy improving, gas demand is going back up which is a good sign for renewable fuels.

Nebraska is the nation’s #2 ethanol producer behind only Iowa. Ethanol is responsible for about 1,200 jobs in Nebraska. The state has 24 ethanol plants operating with a capacity of more than 2-billion gallons a year and consuming 700-million bushels of corn.