Letter, 4/7: Higher blends of ethanol help Nebraska

Source: By Todd Sneller, Lincoln Journal Star • Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Journal Star editorial commending EPA’s proposed approval of year-round use of E15 ethanol fuel blends makes several important points (“Expanding E-15 sales would help Nebraska,” March 23).

Ethanol provides a reliable domestic market for agricultural products. With increasingly higher gasoline prices ethanol also serves as a price hedge for consumers. Ethanol is an economic catalyst generating $5 billion of economic activity annually in Nebraska.

The editorial notes important public health and environmental benefits associated with ethanol. Ethanol is the lowest-cost, cleanest alternative to toxic octane components oil refiners add to gasoline.

The EPA announcement was met with a positive response by virtually all parties except oil refiners. The proposal is a good start, but why limit ethanol blends?

The 10% ethanol limit imposed by EPA in 1979 has served as a barrier to the use of higher blends like E15. Ethanol blends of 20 or 30 percent have demonstrated an ability to provide premium octane benefits to gasoline. Higher blends provide significant emissions reductions compared to toxic octane additives. The opportunity to introduce other ethanol blend options would be lost under the proposed rule.

The US gasoline supply needs lower-cost, cleaner-burning octane. It makes no sense to cap high-octane ethanol blends at 15%. Rather than delay use of higher blends for another decade they should be allowed along with E15.

The call for higher blends including E15 should be loud and clear. Accepting the regulation as proposed will preclude realization of important economic, agricultural, public health and environmental benefits.

Todd Sneller, Lincoln