Did you know Nebraska is home to 25 ethanol plants? Gov. Ricketts recognized renewable fuels

A pump with E10 and E15 blend gasoline is seen at the Western Travel Terminal on South Beltline in Scottsbluff on Friday, May 17.

SCOTTSBLUFF — In a nod to Nebraska’s ethanol industry, Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation Friday declaring May as Renewable Fuels Month.

Since 2006, the Nebraska governor has dedicated one month out of each year to recognize the importance of renewable biofuels, such as ethanol, to the state.

Currently, over 97% of all gasoline in the United States is blended with locally-produced ethanol. Nebraska is home to 25 ethanol plants, which produce 2.2 billion gallons of clean-burning, locally-produced fuel each year. Because most of the ethanol produced in the U.S. is produced from corn, ethanol plants also produce over 6.4 million metric tons of distiller grains (a high-protein livestock feed) as an ethanol co-product. That resource contributes greatly to the Nebraska beef industry.

What’s more, Nebraska’s ethanol industry also creates jobs. Over 1,400 rural Nebraskans were directly employed by the industry with an average salary of more than $50,000.

“Nebraska’s ethanol industry not only benefits our state’s farmers, but also our consumers and our nation’s economy,” David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend, said in a press release. “The more ethanol we use, the cleaner our air becomes. We’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting cancer-causing toxic chemicals from entering into our atmosphere. Additionally, we’re able to save money at the pump on higher-octane fuels.”

How much are those savings?

A recent study authored by economist Philip K. Verleger Jr. and funded by the Renewable Fuels Foundation, found that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has lowered gas prices by an average of 22 cents per gallon in recent years and saved the typical American household $250 annually.

E15 gasoline contains 15% ethanol versus the 10% found in most U.S. gasoline, but had previously been banned over the summers over concerns that E15 contributes to smog in hot weather. However, recent studies have shown its impact on air quality may not be significantly different than E10.

President Donald Trump announced in October that he was directing the EPA to allow year-round sales of E15 before this summer, which could prove to be a boon to not only the ethanol industry, but also corn farmers struggling with low commodity prices. At the same time, year-round E15 sales would prove friendlier on travelers' wallets during the summer months.

The proposed rule that the EPA is developing, which is due to be released on June 1, would waive the Reid vapor pressure requirement that currently halts summertime sales of E15.