Weekly Column

Top agricultural states like Nebraska help to feed the world. But family farmers in Nebraska also help to fuel the country through the production of biofuels.

In fact, our state is the second largest producer of biofuels in the nation, generating more than 2 billion gallons of renewable fuel every year. Nebraska’s 24 operating ethanol plants have also created up to 1,400 good-paying jobs.

E15 – which the EPA defines as gasoline blended with 10.5% to 15% ethanol – is one type of biofuel. It’s a critical component of our fuel mix because it can help lower gas prices for consumers at the pump. According to data from the Oil and Energy Commodity Pricing and News Services, the average price of E15 during the summer driving season was $0.16 per gallon less than unleaded gas.

Unfortunately, unnecessary regulations have prevented the public from being able to enjoy all of E15’s economic and environmental benefits.

Current federal rules restrict the sale of E15 during the summer, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can issue emergency waivers permitting sales on a state-by-state basis.

For years, I have led the charge to end this legal limbo and allow the sale of E15 year-round. It’s been a difficult battle, but after working with biofuels producers, oil refiners, fuel retailers, and ag groups, I’m proud to say the path forward has never been clearer.

Last week, I introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to allow for the year-round, nationwide sale of E15.

This legislation has strong support on both sides of the aisle and from stakeholders in a wide range of industry groups.

One of the organizations supporting this bill is the American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest oil/gas trade association in the country. These groups are coming together because everyone agrees – a simple federal solution allowing for year-round E-15 is good for the nation.

Our bill has strong bipartisan backing, including from my friends Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota. North Dakota is the third largest oil producing state, and their support further demonstrates the broad base of support for this legislation.

Consumers want the lower fuel prices from E15, and retailers know it, too. That’s why the number of retailers offering E15 has more than doubled since 2017, rising from 1,200 to 2,700.

Beyond bringing down costs at the pump, expanding the use of E15 helps our environment.

One study found that greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol are 46% lower than traditional gasoline. Another study stated that corn ethanol contributed to a 500-million-ton reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2019.

Finally, E15 boosts our domestic energy security. Consider the Biden Administration’s recent decision to ease sanctions on Venezuela – a terrible dictatorship – to allow that country to boost its oil production. The United States is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. That’s why it’s critical we do everything we can to unleash American energy here at home and end our dependence on foreign oil.

The bottom line is this – the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act represents a major win for family farmers and consumers at the pump. With more support than ever, I’m hopeful we can get this bill passed soon. It’s time we make year-round E15 a reality.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.