Nebraska farmers make the case for higher blends of ethanol

Source: By Steve White, NTV • Posted: Friday, April 7, 2017

Pres. Trump says he wants to end job–killing regulations on ethanol, and area farmers suggest a good place to start.

“Allow E15 to be sold as normal gasoline, moving forward with that is going to be great for us,” said Jan tenBensel a Cambridge farmer who serves on the ethanol board.

E15 is 15 percent ethanol blended with gasoline, but tenBensel said it has been held up by the EPA. It’s one area where leaders in the corn belt want Pres. Trump to cut red tape.

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently told NTV, “The EPA has been penalizing that by not giving the same advantage E10 has so there’s a lot of things we want to do with the governor’s biofuels coalition to help encourage the EPA to expand ethanol because it’s great for our state, and great for our country.”

Scott McPheeters of Gothenburg recently shared that message on Capitol Hill. He says higher ethanol blends would allow more flexibility.

“And even the states that may have boats or other things that don’t use full 10 percent in their gasoline, if we use more than 15, they don’t have to worry quite so much about it, we want at least ten percent in the nation’s fuel supply but E15 is even more advantaged than E10,” McPheeters said.

And while there’s optimism Pres. Trump will agree, there are also signs he may shift the point where ethanol is accounted for in the fuel supply.

It’s been a divisive issue for the ethanol industry.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Todd Sneller said billionaire investor Carl Icahn is pushing for a change in the “point of obligation”, shifting the regulatory burden from refiners to wholesalers. Sneller said that’s created a major split in the industry, with some unusual alliances forming.

A bipartisan group of 23 U.S. Senators recently sent a letter opposing that change.

It goes to show there may be some give and take with the new president.

And if “America First” is the philosophy, farmers say they can help by with a renewable fuel that comes from the farm.

Scott McPheeters said, “We’ve never had to deploy any troops to guard the fields in the Midwest.”

Ethanol Board Administrator Todd Sneller says if they can roll back regulations and allow higher blends at the pump, that could result in a spike in demand.

And with low corn prices, that would be welcome news for Nebraska corn growers.