All posts by Amber Rucker

Nebraska Ethanol Board March 4th board meeting to be held in Lincoln

LINCOLN, NEB – The Nebraska Ethanol Board will hold a board meeting in Lincoln on Wednesday, March 4 at 9 a.m. The meeting will be at Hyatt Place (600 Q Street) in Meeting Rooms I & II. The agenda is as follows:

  1. Call Meeting to Order
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Approval of Dec. 11, 2019, Board Meeting Minutes
  4. Budget Report
  5. Fuel Retailer Update & Feb. 20 Lincoln E15 Workshop Recap
  6. E30 Demonstration Update
  7. Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
  8. Nebraska Corn Board Update
  9. Marketing Programs
  10. Dues and Memberships
  11. Approval of Contracts
  12. State and Federal Legislation
  13. Ethanol Plant Reports
  14. Chair’s Report
  15. Administrator’s Report
  16. Working Lunch
  17. Travel Reports and Authorization
  18. Discussion of Technical Advisor Position
  19. Personnel
  20. Executive Session, if deemed necessary
  21. Public Opportunity for Questions, Comments or Concerns
  22. Next Meeting Date
  23. Adjourn

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works to ensure strong public policy and consumer support for biofuels. Since 1971, the independent state agency has designed and managed programs to expand production, market access, worker safety and technology innovation, including recruitment of producers interested in developing conventional ethanol, as well as bio-products from the ethanol platform. For more information, visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

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Ethanol Board invites fuel retailers to E15 Workshop Feb. 20 in Lincoln

LINCOLN, Neb. — Dan O’Neill, president and CEO of Kwik Stop Convenience Stores, attended an E15 Retailer Workshop. Now, O’Neill will be adding blender pumps for E15, E30 and E85 at five Kwik Stop locations. According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB), O’Neill is one of many attendees who have given positive feedback and plan to start the process of selling E15.

“Since January 2019, we’re aware of more than 30 new E15 locations in Nebraska, bringing the total to more than 85 in the state,” said Roger Berry, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “And that number is quickly growing. It is very encouraging and it shows that retailers are seeing the value in adding E15. We’re hosting these free workshops to make the process even easier. Our speakers present but also answer questions about regulations, share the hiccups they may have faced, and talk about grants to make implementation more affordable.”

The Board will host its third E15 Workshop Feb. 20 at Hyatt Place in downtown Lincoln, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Robert White, VP of Industry Relations with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), will kick off the workshop as keynote. According to RFA, there was enough E15 sold in 2019 to fuel nearly 650,000 vehicles for the entire year. RFA noted there are many reasons for continued optimism, including the USDA’s new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program that is in the works, and the administration has committed to streamline E15 labeling and to reduce other barriers.

Some retailers have been reluctant to retrofit their pumps for E15 due to misconceptions about cost and installation.      

 “Many gas stations can begin to sell E15 with very little investment in their current infrastructure,” Berry said. “That’s why we are holding this complimentary workshop to debunk the myths and allow retailers to hear firsthand from others who’ve gone through the process.”

Berry explains that the installation depends on everyone’s unique circumstances, but it can be as simple as a quick switch. 

“If a pre-blended E15 is available at the rack where the fuel retailer sources their fuel, they can often times replace one of their current choices, such as an 89-octane mid-grade that they generally sell less of, with very little to no investment. The retailer does not have to install the more expensive blender pumps in order to sell E15.”

Additionally, some of the cost burdens can be relieved through various grant programs that award qualifying retailers money for equipment and infrastructure to offer higher blends of ethanol fuel.

To see the full agenda and to register, please visit ethanol.nebraska.gov.

Previous participants have said:

  • “I found the Fuel Retailer’s E15 Workshop to be fascinating. It was very informative and I learned a lot about the ethanol industry. We already sell some E15, but this inspired me to work toward making the switch to E15 at more locations. I also learned some good ideas to better promote the product and grow our sales.”
  • “We have been pondering whether to take on E15. With what I learned and will be sharing with my team, I feel pretty strongly that we will be making the move. The E15 workshop was very educational and helpful.”

The workshop is free thanks to the event sponsors: Midwest Petroleum Equipment, Nebraska Corn Board, Renewable Fuels Nebraska, Nebraska Fuel Retailers Association, and the Nebraska Ethanol Board. Light snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the afternoon.

Recent stats from Growth Energy report there are 2,081 retail locations in 30 states offering E15. The increase in E15 sales will provide an additional value-added market for Nebraska farmers and ethanol plants who experienced a challenging last year. Weather, the strain of tariffs that have cut U.S. exports drastically, and the EPA’s indiscriminate approval of small refinery exemptions (SREs) are weighing heavily on the industry. Fuel retailers who offer E15 will not only be driving customers seeking lower costs and environmental change to their stores, they will have a real impact on Nebraska’s farmers and economy, Berry said. 

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works to ensure strong public policy and consumer support for biofuels. Since 1971, the independent state agency has designed and managed programs to expand production, market access, worker safety and technology innovation, including recruitment of producers interested in developing conventional ethanol, as well as bio-products from the ethanol platform. For more information, visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

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Cooperative Producers adds E15 at Axtell and Red Cloud locations

LINCOLN, Nebraska – The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) applauds Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI) for adding E15 at their fuel sites in Axtell, Nebraska, and Red Cloud, Nebraska. These additions are CPI’s fifth and sixth locations selling E15 in the state including locations in Clay Center, Funk, Giltner, and Juniata.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative we need to support the folks who do business with us,” said Gary Brandt, vice president of energy with CPI. “CPI uses 500,000 bushels of corn in the ethanol we sell every year, so adding more ethanol to the pumps in Axtell and Red Cloud really brings a sense of ownership to our growers who work hard throughout the year to feed and fuel our country.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves E15 for use in vehicles 2001 and newer, and it is currently available at more than 70 stations across Nebraska. Find locations at www.getbiofuel.com.

NEB encourages consumers to consider filling up with E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, to save money at the pump, support Nebraska agriculture, and help reduce toxic pollution. The following facts help demonstrate the many benefits of using E15.

  • 9 out of every 10 cars in America can motor safely with E15, which has a lower price and higher octane rating than Unleaded and even E10!
  • More than 12 billion miles have been driven on E15 with no issues.
  • Installing E15 can be much easier than you think, and the Nebraska Ethanol Board is ready and willing to work with you to find resources for your situation.
  • Sustainability and health are topics on many consumers’ minds almost daily, especially given the uptick in cancer cases and the relevant conversations about climate change. Ethanol dilutes cancer-causing toxins in gasoline and since it burns more completely, it also greatly reduces tailpipe emissions. By just using E10, we are reducing greenhouse gases from auto pollution by 42%. Consider the impact of using even higher ethanol blends. Our future depends on it!
  • Today there are nearly 1,800 retail locations in 31 states selling E15 and that number is growing. Be part of this global effort to fuel our community in a healthier, more affordable way.  

“We appreciate Cooperative Producers’ move to add higher blends like E15 because it uses more corn raised right here in Nebraska, which is a benefit for our agriculture economy,” said Roger Berry, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Using more ethanol also means fewer toxic chemicals in our fuel. Using higher blends of ethanol is a good decision for all Nebraskans. It helps the state’s economy, consumers’ wallets, vehicle engines and the environment. Ethanol’s impact across the country and the globe continues to grow, but it starts right here at home.”

The NEB is urging more Nebraska fuel retailers to make E15 fuel more widely available to motorists. To help fuel retailers learn more about the ease of selling E15, NEB is hosting free workshops across the state. For details, visit ethanol.nebraska.gov. Some retailers have been reluctant to retrofit their pumps for E15 due to misconceptions about cost and installation.    

“These locations don’t have a flex fuel pump, but we’re still able to offer E15 by blending it at the pipeline terminal,” Brandt said. “As E15 fuel gains momentum, we believe it will become available at most fuel stations in Nebraska.”

For fuel retailers looking to include higher ethanol blends at their pumps, NEB, Nebraska Corn Board, Renewable Fuels Nebraska, and the USDA are available to answer questions and provide information about grants that can relieve some of the cost burdens.

“We often refer to our industry as the ‘golden triangle,’” said Ted Schrock, district 6 director of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Elm Creek. “We have productive corn, ethanol and livestock sectors, which all work together to boost our state’s economy while providing us with food, fuel and fiber. CPI Cooperative has taken a great step in strengthening this triangle by using a renewable, locally produced product that benefits everyone who likes to breathe clean air while saving at the pump. Our ethanol industry alone has added 1,300 jobs to Nebraska’s economy.”

Cooperative Producers, Inc. is a farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Hastings, Nebraska, which operates in south central Nebraska. CPI currently serves more than 32 communities with more than 400 employees and offers a range of products and services in agronomy, energy, feed, and grain divisions.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works to ensure strong public policy and consumer support for biofuels. Since 1971, the independent state agency has designed and managed programs to expand production, market access, worker safety and technology innovation, including recruitment of producers interested in developing conventional ethanol, as well as bio-products from the ethanol platform. For more information, visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

EPA ruling on 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations undermines ethanol industry

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) is disappointed in the final rule setting the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for ethanol for 2020 issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Dec. 19. The rule sets conventional ethanol demand for next year at 15.8 billion gallons and not at the 16.34 billion gallons necessary to immediately move the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market and incentivize industry growth.

“The EPA missed a big opportunity to restore market faith that there will be 2020 ethanol demand at the levels laid out in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law,” said Roger Berry, NEB administrator. “We appreciate that the EPA increased the RVO by .8 billion gallons of conventional ethanol, but there is no evidence this addition will ultimately reflect the number of lost 2020 gallons given the EPA’s historical practice of granting retroactive Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) without reallocation. This ruling also does not set safeguards into place that will ensure SREs are only granted to refineries who truly prove economic hardship.”

Since 2017, the EPA has granted roughly 40 percent more waived gallons than the annual average of about .8 billion that were recommended to have been waived by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“The EPA has now had its say on next year’s ethanol demand volumes,” Berry said. “We are going to work with our political champions and industry peers to ensure that the EPA does not grant more than .8 billion in SREs for 2020, so that there will be a solid 15 billion gallons of stable conventional ethanol demand next year. That outcome will help restore confidence and growth in the ethanol industry, and we look forward to seeing improvement as soon as possible.”

“We are cautiously hopeful that the EPA will start strictly following DOE’s recommendations, as Secretary Perdue told me in person last week that 15 billion gallons of conventional corn ethanol truly means 15 billion gallons,” said Nebraska Ethanol Board Chairman Jan tenBensel.   

A full copy of the ruling can be found here.

Fuel Retailers and Drivers Raise Thousands for Local Cancer Center

Representatives from the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska presented a donation check to the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center Dec. 11.

LINCOLN, Nebraska – In the past two years, fuel retailers across Nebraska have joined forces to raise more than $13,000 for cancer research as part of Fuel the Cure. During October, when drivers chose higher blends of ethanol fuel like E15, E30 and E85 at participating retail locations, gas stations donated 3 cents for each gallon sold. The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha received $6,190.47 and the June E. Nylen Cancer Center received $500, thanks to a generous match from Siouxland Ethanol.

“Donations to cancer research truly make a difference,” said Jenn Klein, a wife, mother, and breast cancer survivor. “I’m thankful funding was available to discover treatment before I needed it or I might not be here today.” 

When Klein was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, her cancer cells were growing and dividing at a rate of about 80 percent. Treatment was needed immediately. A funded researcher discovered two of the four chemotherapy treatments she underwent.

While biofuels and cancer research may seem like an unlikely pairing, studies shows that using more biofuels leads to less air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, up to 70 percent of ground-level ozone-forming pollutants come from mobile-source emissions.

Chemicals in gasoline are the same carcinogens found in tobacco, which are linked to cancer. Higher blends of biofuels dilute the toxicity and help reduce cancer-causing aromatics released from tailpipe emissions. Ethanol-blended fuels also reduce greenhouse gases by 42 percent.

“Fuel retailers know that regular and premium gasoline is harmful to the air we breathe. By making higher ethanol blends available, they are empowering consumers to help make a difference. Supporting Fuel the Cure is a step beyond because the funds are directly impacting lives of patients at the Cancer Center,” said Roger Berry, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “Presently, we are dependent on fuel to get around while we work toward a better solution. By choosing higher blends of ethanol in the fuel we put in our cars, we can all do more toward creating a healthier environment now and for the future.”

Drivers who choose ethanol at the pump often see a price break, and their use of ethanol supports Nebraska farmers and the economy. To find a location near you, visit getbiofuel.com.

E15, also called Unleaded 88, is approved for use in all passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. One in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Drivers can check their owner’s manual to see if they’re driving a flex fuel vehicle. The vehicle might also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.

While 2019 Fuel the Cure has ended, the Nebraska Ethanol Board is already preparing for next year’s event and would encourage Nebraska fuel retailers who are interested in participating to reach out.

“We continue to see the number of fuel retailers in Nebraska offering E15 increase, and we are going to continue educating fuel retailers and the public to make the option more easily accessible,” Berry said. “The more higher ethanol blends we make available to drivers, the bigger the impact we are making.”

The Nebraska Corn and Ethanol boards, along with Renewable Fuels Nebraska, sponsor Fuel the Cure in conjunction with retail stations. To see the full list of stations that donated funds, visit www.fuelthecure.pink.