All posts by Megan Grimes

New study reveals positive economic impacts of Nebraska’s ethanol industry

LINCOLN, Neb. — A recent impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) economists reveals Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity increased by 23 percent since 2014, and continues to be a significant driver of economic impact for the state.

“The state sees what economists describe as an economic ‘bounce’ when we take advantage of the added value when grain is converted to food, fuel, fiber, renewable chemicals and bio-products,” said Sarah Caswell, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “There is enormous potential for biofuels to continue to strengthen the economic health of Nebraska through bio-based innovation and international trade.”

The study’s authors ­– Dr. Kathleen Brooks, UNL agricultural economics professor; Dr. Tim Meyer, UNL agricultural economics professor; Dr. Eric Thompson, UNL economics professor and Bureau of Business Research director; and Dr. Cory Walters, UNL agricultural economics professor – examined the economic impact of Nebraska’s ethanol industry between 2015 and 2017.

As of 2017, Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity was 2.558 billion gallons per year, with 1,453 full-time employees at 24 facilities. This represents an increase of 481 million gallons annually and an additional 152 full-time employees compared to 2014.

These additional jobs reflect the ethanol industry’s substantial and continued annual impact on the local labor market. In 2016, the total labor income impact – including direct and indirect jobs – was $275 million earned from an estimated 3,509 jobs for an average annual earnings of $78,300. Ethanol plant jobs provide significantly higher-wages compared to other manufacturing positions and are uniquely located in rural communities.

These positive economics also occur in the local corn market due to higher demand from nearby ethanol plants. The study noted a consistently positive impact on local basis (the difference between the local cash price and the futures price) from ethanol production. For example, a producer near an ethanol plant producing 220 bushels of corn per acre would receive an additional $11.44 per acre each year.

Nebraska’s large ethanol production results in 94 percent of the product being shipped out of state, making Nebraska one of the largest exporters of bioenergy. In addition, 51 percent of dried distillers grain produced in 2015 and 44 percent in 2016 were shipped out of state. These out-of-state sales result in a net positive for the state and represent a direct economic impact by bringing new money into the state economy.

“The quantifiable economic impact of ethanol production on the Nebraska economy is clear,” said Jan tenBensel, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “But we should also understand the enormous savings in health and environmental costs associated with displacing toxic petroleum products with cleaner-burning biofuels like ethanol. Choosing ethanol fuel brings additional and significant cost savings in terms of public health.”

Although ethanol and co-product production increased in 2016 and 2017, prices declined and led to reduced overall production values. Between 2015 and 2017, Nebraska’s value of production for ethanol and co-products averaged $3.8 billion.

While the value of production for ethanol and co-products was lower between 2015-2017 compared to previous years, both ethanol capacity and employment increased indicating a positive long-term outlook. Ethanol plants continue to assimilate technology that increases efficiency and diversifies their production portfolio to take advantage of new market opportunities.

The purpose of the “Economic Impacts of the Nebraska Ethanol and Ethanol Co-Products Industry” study was to estimate the value of production during 2015-2017 as an update to the 2014 study, and compare that value to major commodity production values in Nebraska. In addition, the study measured productive capacity, co-product value, employment, net returns, in-state utilization and exports. To view the full study, visit

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Originally published by the Nebraska Energy Office on January 9, 2019.

LINCOLN — Over 90 percent of all fuel in Nebraska is blended with locally-produced ethanol. This homegrown industry supports over 1,300 jobs across the state and 25 ethanol plants. The ethanol industry represents a $5 billion economic impact to Nebraska.

In 2016, the Nebraska Energy Office, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Department of Agriculture and several Nebraska ethanol plants funded 88 new advanced “blender pumps” and seven underground storage tanks. The equipment was installed at 22 retail fueling locations throughout the state. A blender pump draws two fuels from separate storage tanks and mixes them together in various percentages to form an unlimited variety of fuel choices for the station’s customers. Most often, the blends are E15, E35, E85 and regular unleaded.

Governor Ricketts stated, “Over the summer, I have been traveling the state to highlight the availability of new flex fuel infrastructure. In the past couple of years, my team and the Nebraska Energy Office has been working with the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Ethanol Board to install more flex fuel pumps in communities across the state. As new fuel choices are offered at more retail locations, consumers become better acquainted with these options and the lower prices. These new pumps will distribute thousands of gallons of biofuels to the many travelers crossing our state.”

The mission of the program is to help facilitate the availability of higher ethanol blended gasoline to the traveling public. The final blender pump supported by this program was installed on December 21, 2018 at the TimeSaver Station No. 3 in North Platte, Nebraska. This program has doubled the number of pumps throughout the state that may be used to dispense higher ethanol blended gasoline to consumers, enabling drivers in Nebraska to use increasing volumes of Nebraska ethanol.

“This has been a collaborative effort that will serve Nebraskans well into the future,” said Nebraska Energy Office Interim Director, Jim Macy. “It is really rewarding to see so many organizations step forward and support this effort”.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator, Sarah Caswell, said that the Nebraska Energy Office “has done a tremendous job administering this program and helping to ensure that funding got to retailers throughout the state.”

“The fact that retail stations in Nebraska with such blender pumps has doubled since the inception of the program shows that, with the right information and resources, there is a high level of interest among retailers in offering higher blends of ethanol to consumers,” Caswell said.

“That increased availability helps further bolster the economic impact of ethanol on the state’s economy, thereby supporting farmers, ethanol plants and local economies. The more ethanol Nebraskans consume, the cleaner our air and stronger our economy will be across the state. The success of this program is a real win-win for Nebraska.”

Retailers participating in the Access Ethanol Nebraska/Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership Project can be found at the Nebraska Energy Office website at a general listing of retailers through Nebraska can be found at the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at

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Nebraska Ethanol Board Meeting Feb. 1, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet at noon Friday, Feb. 1. The meeting will be held in Lincoln at the downtown Hyatt Place Hotel (600 Q Street).

The board welcomes Erick Lutt, senior director, Industrial & Environment Section (IES) with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, as the keynote speaker during the board meeting. Lutt will join the group on a video conference call and discuss policy issues related to biofuels.

At the Biotechnology Innovation Organization in Washington, D.C., Lutt is responsible for developing policy options for the IES Governing Board and working groups, and focuses on advanced and cellulosic biofuels, bio-based products, renewable chemicals and agricultural feedstocks. His policy work entails working with members of Congress on energy and agricultural legislation and the administration on regulatory affairs dealing with industrial biotechnology and the bio-based economy.

Previously, Lutt worked for former U.S. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska as his legislative assistant, where he developed the Senator’s legislative agenda for agriculture, biofuels, biotech, energy, environment and trade. He also led Sen. Nelson’s committee agenda for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Prior to joining Sen. Nelson’s office, Lutt worked for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s campaign in South Dakota.

Lutt has a degree in government and international affairs from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Lutt will speak on a video call at approximately 12:20 p.m. The meeting agenda is as follows:

  1. Call Meeting to Order
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Approval of Minutes
  4. Budget Report
  5. Working Lunch
  6. Erick Lutt, Biotechnology Innovation Organization
  7. UNL Economic Impact Study Reveal
  8. Industrial Training
  9. Marketing & Education Programs
  10. Membership Dues
  11. E30 Demonstration Update
  12. State and Federal Legislation
  13. Ethanol Plant Reports
  14. Fuel Retailer Reports
  15. Chair’s Report
  16. Administrator’s Report
  17. Travel Reports and Authorization
  18. Election
  19. Personnel
  20. Next Meeting Date
  21. 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

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NEB’s statement on EPA’s 2019 RVO numbers

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA set a total renewable fuel blending obligation of 19.92 billion gallons next year, consisting of 4.92 billion gallons for advanced biofuel, 418 million gallons for cellulosic biofuel, and 15 billion gallons for conventional biofuel, which is expected to be made up of corn-starch ethanol volumes.

“The RFS is a fundamental driver of ethanol investment and demand in Nebraska,” said Sarah Caswell, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “The policy provides vital value-added agriculture opportunities for the state’s farmers, producers and surrounding communities. We commend the EPA for issuing the timely and robust 2019 blending levels by the statutory deadline.

Nebraska producers are on the cutting edge of innovation leading to greater market opportunities for the production and use of ethanol and related technologies. Many Nebraska ethanol producers are adding improved enzymes and technologies to their existing processes and equipment to enable them to co-produce measurable volumes of both conventional corn-starch ethanol and cellulosic ethanol made from corn kernel fiber. The increase in cellulosic and advanced Renewable Volume Obligations for 2019 will help to further this progress.

We will continue to work with Nebraska’s strong biofuel policy champions, including Governor Pete Ricketts and Senator Deb Fischer, and other important Renewable Fuel Standard stakeholders to help maintain the stability of the policy. This includes working to ensure that any future small refinery waivers do not reduce ethanol volumes, which creates market destruction.”


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Fueling with ethanol yields $6,100 for local cancer center

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Throughout October, drivers raised more than $6,100 for cancer research by choosing American Ethanol blends at select Nebraska retail stations participating in Fuel the Cure.

Fuel the Cure is a Nebraska awareness promotion designed to bring attention to the benefits of cleaner-burning American Ethanol blends available throughout the state. For every gallon of ethanol-blended fuel – E15 to flex fuel E85 – purchased between Oct. 1-31, the participating fuel station donated 3 cents per gallon with proceeds benefitting the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

While biofuels and cancer research may seem like an unlikely pairing, research 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.

“Gasoline contains as many as 300 different chemicals,” said Sarah Caswell, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Some of these chemicals are known and suspected to cause cancer. Higher blends of biofuel dilute the level of toxic additives in our fuel, which helps reduce pollution and the threat to public health. Ethanol is the safest component in gasoline today.”

The mission of the Fred & Pamela Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer in Nebraska through premier educational programs, innovative research, the highest quality patient care, and outreach to underserved populations. Representatives from the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska presented a donation check to the Cancer Center Nov. 15.

“This has been a great partnership for us because we want to share the positive benefits of cleaner-burning American Ethanol,” said David Bruntz, Nebraska Corn Board chairman and farmer from Friend. “Fuel the Cure helps us achieve this goal while aiding in cancer research. I look forward to seeing this awareness campaign continue to grow with more participating fuel retailers and more drivers choosing ethanol-blended fuels.”

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

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