Oct 15 2018
**Audio for this week’s column in unavailable**
When Nebraska families have to take more money out of their wallets to fill their gas tanks, it hurts our families, our local communities and our economies. Whether it’s parents picking up their children from school or making the daily commute to work, escalating gas prices make life more difficult for everyone.
For too long, an unnecessary barrier has prevented drivers throughout our country from using higher ethanol blends like E-15 during the summer driving season. Every year, from June 1st to mid-September, retailers are prohibited from selling E-15 because it does not have a Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver for the summer months. A decades-old ban has restricted Nebraska consumers the opportunity to save money and purchase a cleaner fuel when gas prices tend to be at their highest.
Our state has the ability to reduce fuel prices for consumers with more options at the pump. Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer. We have 25 ethanol plants that employ more than 1,300 hardworking Nebraskans with high-paying jobs, which are mostly located in rural communities. We’ve answered the call to provide our nation with home-grown transportation fuel. So for the Good Life and rural America, limiting E-15 sales is like benching your best player during the most important game of the season.
Because of our tenacious efforts in the Senate and action by President Trump, a major victory for rural America is on its way.
Recently, I joined President Trump at the White House where he announced that he has instructed the EPA to allow for E-15 to be sold year-round. This is a huge win for our farmers, consumers, and retailers. It’s also a challenge that I have taken on since I arrived in the Senate. As one of America’s top producers of ethanol, Nebraska provides vital renewable solutions for the energy needs of our nation.
The president’s announcement is exciting for our farmers. In the past five years, farm country has experienced a declining economy. With decreased commodity prices, higher input costs, and tighter margins has come anxiety and uncertainty about the future. The nets constricting innovation and market expansion in the Good Life are now being cut.
The year-round sale of E-15 will also greatly benefit consumers and their families. Americans will no longer be faced with confusion at the pump. Instead, they will know that E-15 will be labeled consistently, regardless of the time of year, enabling them to make the best decisions for their family and their wallets. Finally, it will alleviate regulatory burdens for retailers forced to make expensive infrastructure changes every Memorial Day.
This great news is in addition to the recent major wins we’ve seen on trade. Mexico and Canada are Nebraska’s two largest trading partners, so the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will bring good opportunities to our producers. So will the new, modernized free trade agreement with South Korea. Just last year, South Korea imported nearly $500 million of Nebraska’s agricultural products.
What’s more, the administration is starting trade talks with Japan. I recently met with the Ambassador of Japan, Shinsuke Sugiyama, to discuss the important trade relationship between Nebraska and Japan for our agricultural producers. We will continue building upon our strong relationship to provide a brighter future for both of our countries.
With the E-15 year-round sale announcement and our progress made on trade, our country is moving in the right direction. Our ag producers need certainty and predictability now more than ever. I’m proud to fight for our farmers, our innovators, and our small town communities so they can continue to do what they do best: feed and fuel the world.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.