LINCOLN, NE — In letters to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, over 100 business and farm leaders across seven Midwest states called on regulators to lift restrictions on the sale of ethanol, a crop-based biofuel that drives Nebraska agricultural revenues and rural manufacturing. Signers from Nebraska included Alan Tiemann of Seward, Dinkel’s of Norfolk, Midwest Labs of Omaha and 20 others.
“New markets for American-made biofuels promise to rejuvenate growth, but long-standing policies designed to promote cleaner, more cost-effective options at the fuel pump have been under siege by special interests in Washington,” wrote 73 business groups and Midwest employers. “We ask that you stand firm against these attacks and use every tool available to prevent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt from adopting regulatory schemes that would further undercut demand for biofuels and their energy-rich farm feedstocks.”
The business leaders noted an urgent need to reverse a five-year dive in farm income that threatens to stall the rural economy “well beyond farm communities.” They also called on Perdue to act swiftly on the President’s pledge to lift outdated restrictions against the summertime sales of E15, a motor fuel containing 15 percent ethanol. The message was mirrored by farm leaders in their own letter to Secretary Perdue.
“For far too long, the EPA has failed to update regulations on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), which hold E15 to tougher standards than traditional gasoline during the summer,” wrote 37 Midwest agricultural groups and farmers, who harvest the renewable energy for nearly every gallon of U.S. ethanol. “There’s no reason for the restriction, which prohibits many retailers from offering cleaner, more-affordable options to their customers. Lifting these needless restrictions would provide a vital outlet for America’s 3.9 billion bushels of surplus grain, boost rural growth, and promote American energy dominance.”
The letters were offered in a show of support for an ongoing campaign organized by Growth Energy, America’s leading trade association of biofuel producers and supporters. Under Growth Energy’s leadership, rural advocates from across the country have urged policymakers in Washington to unleash America’s vast renewable resources to lower fuel prices, strengthen U.S. energy security, protect the climate, and put an end to a farm crisis that threatens to send an entire generation of farmers out of business. A similar call to action was issued earlier this month by 55 public officials from Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“Starting June 1, outdated federal regulations cut off millions of drivers from a lower-cost fuel that supports farmers and rural manufacturing,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “President Trump promised Midwest lawmakers that he would fast-track a fix, and Secretary Perdue is working with the EPA on a solution, but time is running out. Farmers cannot afford to be locked out of the market for another driving season, especially when we could be holding down quickly-rising gas prices.”
Intended to reduce evaporative emissions, the current RVP guidelines were drafted before E15 hit the market, resulting in outdated restrictions that hold E15 to higher standards than less eco-friendly options offered all year long. Those limits now threaten growth opportunities for farm crops amid the sharpest agricultural downturn since the 1980s.
“Ethanol is really about enhancing the value of corn, as I sell #2 corn as a commodity and then buy distillers grain as a feed for my cow herd, and then you add in the cleaner air that ethanol provides, it is such a win-win for Nebraskans”, stated LaVon Heidemann of Elk Creek another signer on the letter.