Pillen signs the Adopt the E15 Access Standard Act

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Sunday, June 4, 2023

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen on June 1 signed the Adopt the E15 Access Standard Act, a bill that aims to increase consumer access to E15 by providing tax credits to fuel retailers that sell higher ethanol blends.

The legislation, SB 562, was introduced on Jan. 17 and addressed during a Feb. 7 legislative hearing. The Nebraska Legislature on May 30 voted 46 to 0 to approve the bill.

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the new law will require fuel retailers in Nebraska to sell E15 from at least 50 percent of their dispensers starting in 2024 if they build a new motor fuel site for replace more than 80 percent of the motor fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure at an existing site. If the statewide ethanol blend rate is below 14 percent in 2027, the legislation requires fuel retailers to offer E15 from at least one dispenser at each retail location. The income tax credit the bill providers for fuel retailers is set at 8 cents per gallon of E15 sold in 2024, 9 cents per gallon in 2025, 8 cents per gallon in 2026, 7 cents per gallon in 2027 and 5 cents per gallon in 2028.

“Nine out of 10 fuel retailers in Nebraska will be able to offer E15 without expensive upgrades to their fuel infrastructure and dispensing system,” said Reid Wagner, NEB executive director. “The framework created through LB562 offers a pathway to increase access to higher blends while minimizing costs to fuel retailers and maximizing savings for consumers.”

“This is a great day for Nebraska’s drivers,” said Jan tenBensel, chairman of the NEB. “Having the option to choose lower‑cost, lower-carbon E15 at fuel stations all around the state is a big win for consumers, farmers, and value-added agriculture.”

The Renewable Fuels Association applauded the signing of the bill.  “This new law will help Nebraska families save money on a fuel choice that is also good for their state’s economy and environment,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “The use of lower-cost E15 has been shown to provide emissions reductions as well as cost savings, and the use of more American-made ethanol supports thousands of jobs in Nebraska and across America’s heartland. We look forward to working with retailers so they reach new drivers by providing a smart fuel option that has proven popular.”

RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White attended the bill signing. Nebraska’s 24 ethanol biorefineries use 750 million bushels of corn to produce 2.3 billion gallons of ethanol and over 5 million tons of distillers grains as livestock feed each year, as well as other coproducts. This work supports more than 52,700 jobs in the state. In addition, the use of ethanol saves Nebraska drivers approximately $84 million each year, while reducing CO2 emissions by 314,000 metric tons.

The American Coalition for Ethanol is also welcoming the new law. Ron Lamberty, chief marketing officer of ACE, also attended the bill signing ceremony. “Historically, giving retailers targeted fuel tax credits has been more successful at driving increased ethanol volume than nearly every other program offered,” he said. “When marketers ‘do the math’ and understand they can gain a competitive advantage by offering a new, lower-priced ‘regular’ gasoline that almost every car can use, and still improve their own profitability, they’ll make the change. This incentive should encourage marketers to look past all the misinformation about high equipment costs to sell E15 and find out most of their current equipment is already E15 compatible.  We should see more Nebraska stations selling E15 in a short period of time, and when drivers try E15, they like it and keep using it.

“We hope other states follow Nebraska’s example and use this legislation as a template to encourage more retailers to offer cleaner, more affordable, higher ethanol blends,” Lamberty continued.  “We also encourage Congress to take note of growing support for E15, and pass the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to ensure permanent, nationwide access to E15. ACE thanks Senator Myron Dorn, Governor Jim Pillen and other biofuel and legislative leaders for helping expand consumer access to E15 across Nebraska. I’m appreciative of being part of this day.”