Ethanol is Good for Nebraska

Jun 29, 2018

As we reach the height of summer and children are out of school, many of us travel great distances to vacation and spend time with our friends and family. AAA estimates a record 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles away from home during the week of Independence Day. Demand for fuel increases and reminds us of how important it is that we maintain a steady and diverse supply of energy.

One way we can diversify our energy portfolio is through the production of biofuels, which I have long supported for their benefits to Nebraska and the country as a whole. From reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil to supporting our agriculture producers, biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel can reduce the risk of supply shock and help to stabilize prices at the pump.

Ethanol is blended into much of the fuel Americans use on a daily basis, albeit at relatively low levels up to ten percent, which helps to increase its octane level and make it burn cleaner. For this reason, these blends have a longstanding waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be sold year-round.   

E15, however, is currently only available during the winter months because it does not have a waiver, despite having the same emissions characteristics as E10 which is already available year-round. In 1990, when the EPA issued the waiver from Reid Vapor Pressure standards thus enabling widespread use of E10, E15 was excluded for no apparent reason, which has limited its widespread adoption and constrained the expansion of biofuels.

While I very much appreciate President Trump’s public support for E15 and biofuels as a whole, the EPA has yet to follow through by granting the waiver. For this reason, I introduced legislation earlier this Congress to require the EPA to make these changes, and last month I sent a letter to President Trump urging him to do so.

Enabling the widespread adoption and distribution of E15 amounts to common sense regulatory relief the American people deserve, especially as we move into the hot summer months. Restricting its sale when we need it most should not be the position of the United States government and I look forward to its future availability.