For many years, I have been fighting to end the unnecessary ban on year-round sales of E-15. It’s been a serious issue that has restricted our farmers and retailers and robbed families of choices at the pump for too long.
Every year retailers were unable to offer fuel with higher blends of ethanol during the busiest months of the year – the summer driving season from the beginning of June to mid-September. When we could have been providing solutions to our nation’s vital fuel needs, some of the world’s richest sources of ethanol were anchored to an older era.
Our state proudly stands as the largest biofuel-producing state west of the Missouri River. We’re home to 25 ethanol plants which produce more than 2 billion gallons of renewable fuel every year. According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, our ethanol plants provide our hardworking men and women with over 1,300 good-paying jobs and infuse $5 billion into our state’s economy.
To put an end to this unnecessary restriction, I introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley, which would have eliminated this outdated regulation. I also began to hold substantive, productive discussions with President Donald Trump, where I reiterated the importance of E-15 to Nebraska. He agreed that action was needed, and I was proud to be at the White House as he directed the EPA to lift the ban on the year-round sale of E-15 last year.
Recently, we turned a new page as the directive officially took effect for our farmers and ethanol producers in Nebraska and America’s heartland.
I was honored to join President Trump, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler aboard Air Force One as we flew to Nebraska to deliver the good news. We landed at Offutt Air Force Base, then travelled to the SIRE ethanol plant in Council Bluffs.
The president illustrated the vital role of our farmers and ethanol industry to our economy during his speech. And we heard firsthand from folks on how the year-round sale of E-15 directly impacts their lives.
One of the speakers was Randy Gard, chief operating officer of Bosselman Pump and Pantry and Bosselman Enterprises, located in Grand Island.
“... E-15 is simply better fuel and it costs less ... in 2017, our sales of E-15 increased over 300 percent. In 2018, they went up another 225 percent. And with the help of President Trump opening the door for year-round E-15, our newest projections for this year show an increase of another 400 percent,” he said.
The year-round E-15 announcement comes at a time when our farmers and rural communities need it most – and it’s followed by even more good news I’d like to share with you.
I have partnered with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to introduce the RFS Integrity Act. This proposal builds on the year-round E-15 sales announcement. In years past, the EPA has issued smaller refinery exemptions, only after the Renewable Volume Obligations have been set in place. The RFS Integrity Act would bring much-needed transparency and predictability to the EPA’s obscure small refinery exemption process and provide reassuring support for our farmers and ethanol producers who have been hurt by these unfair practices.
In the past few weeks, we have brought good news for Nebraska’s farm families and ethanol producers. I look forward to the positive results these bipartisan, common-sense measures will bring to the hardworking Nebraskans who feed and fuel our world.
Thank you for participating in our democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.