Public Pulse: Rural communities and E15

Source: By Todd Sneller, Lincoln • Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In April, Rep. Don Bacon and other political leaders from Nebraska and Iowa met with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the hard-pressed farm economy.

High atop Bacon’s list of priorities was a regulatory fix allowing retailers to sell higher-ethanol fuel blends like E15, with 15 percent ethanol, during the summer months. Ethanol is made from locally sourced grain, and Nebraska is the country’s second-largest producer behind Iowa. In fact, the biofuel industry contributes over $2 billion to our state’s economy and supports over 20,000 Nebraska jobs.

Bacon was right to press the issue — but the summer driving season is nearly over, and time is running out for the rest of Washington to get on board. E15 is unfairly restricted during the summer due to outdated Environmental Protection Agency rules. This comes at a steep price for rural Americans, who have seen farm incomes drop to their lowest point in five years. E15 offers a vital market for farmers struggling to sell surplus grains, and it offers drivers a less-costly option at the pump.

Bacon left the White House meeting feeling “optimistic” about an E15 fix, but months later, the issue is unresolved. We applaud the work of the Nebraska delegation and urge continued efforts on behalf of rural communities to get this simple fix through the EPA in order to start revitalizing the farm economy.

Todd Sneller, Lincoln