Fuel Retailers and Consumers Fuel Up for Cancer Research

LINCOLN, Neb. – Throughout October, drivers can help Fuel the Cure for breast cancer by filling up with higher blends of ethanol at participating locations. More than 35 Nebraska gas stations will donate 3 cents for every gallon of higher ethanol blends – E15 to flex fuel E85 – sold between Oct. 1­‑31 to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha. 

Why support this important cause? 
Jenn Klein was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Her cancer cells were growing and dividing very rapidly – at a rate of about 80%. Lifesaving treatment was needed right away. She completed 20 weeks of chemotherapy, received multiple blood and platelets transfusions, underwent a four-hour procedure that included a port removal, sentinel node biopsy, double mastectomy, and immediate one-step reconstruction, and endured 33 sessions of radiation. By the end of 2015, Jenn was finally cancer free. If it wasn’t for a chemotherapy treatment that was discovered by a funded researcher, Jenn might not be alive today to share her story.

Chemicals in gasoline, like benzene, are known to cause cancer. Higher blends of biofuels, like locally-produced ethanol, replace a portion of this toxicity and help reduce cancer-causing emissions. Since 2018, Nebraska’s Fuel the Cure campaigns have raised more than $13,000 for cancer research.

“Cancer touches the lives of nearly everyone in some way,” said Ashley Christensen, director of development at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. “We appreciate that Nebraska fuel retailers are joining forces to empower drivers to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which provides lifesaving care to people throughout our state. Through generous contributions, such as the Fuel the Cure campaign, we are able to fund researchers working on new treatments each and every day.”

For a complete list of participating fuel retailers, please visit fueledbynebraska.com. Drivers will be able to identify which retailers are supporting this important cause by looking for pink signage at the pump, on the windows and at the counter.

E15 (15% ethanol and 85% gasoline), also called Unleaded88, is approved for use in all passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. Ethanol blends higher than 15% are approved for use in flex fuel vehicles. One in seven Nebraskans drive a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Drivers can check their owners’ manuals to see if they’re driving flex fuel vehicles. The vehicles may also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.

“This October, I encourage everyone to visit a Fuel the Cure participating retailer,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Through this program, we’re not only saving consumers money, cleaning up the environment and supporting our state’s corn farmers, but we’re also helping in the fight against cancer one gallon at a time.”

The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Ethanol Board, along with Renewable Fuels Nebraska, sponsor Fuel the Cure in conjunction with retail stations.

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Ethanol Board Sees Reconsideration of Gap Waivers as Promising

The U.S. EPA announced on Sept. 14 it will deny a portion of “gap-year” small refinery exemptions (SRE) to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2011-2018. This still leaves 14 pending gap-year SREs and approximately 30 SREs for 2019-2020. 

“The industry has faced some of its tightest margins in the past three years, and this concept of permitting gap-year waivers would really hit us while we are down,” said Roger Berry, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “This news is welcome because I’m not sure how many hits our ethanol producers and farmers can continue to take, and it puts some certainty back into our markets. We will continue to look for the EPA to uphold the law that is the RFS and to find ways to restore billions of gallons lost.”

For the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018 the EPA approved 85 SREs, removing the demand for over 4 billion gallons of ethanol nationwide. At the height of the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, greater than 40% of Nebraska’s ethanol plants were offline and producers lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to decreased demand for ethanol and decreased production of distillers grains.

As the EPA considers the remaining SREs, the Nebraska Ethanol Board looks forward to the EPA similarly denying the remaining gap petitions, which will provide even more certainty and a strong market signal to producers and other stakeholders. This signal would go a long way in helping to restore the market demand for ethanol and other renewable fuels.

According to Berry, the ethanol industry in Nebraska has great potential for future growth. Environmental policy is a hot topic among voters right now, and the industry sees ethanol as a solution now for reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality. According to Growth Energy, a national ethanol trade organization, every new truckload of American ethanol displaces more than 60 barrels of imported oil.

Even with the advent of the electric vehicle, the internal combustion engine will still be in the majority of U.S. fleet vehicles for several decades. A mere 7 percent of the national automobile fleet is replaced each year with new car sales. This doesn’t account for people purchasing used cars. At that rate, if all new cars purchased were electric, it would take more than 14 years to replace all internal combustion engines.

Automobile manufactures continue to develop technologies to increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. These new technologies all require a fuel with high octane. Ethanol is the least toxic, cheapest and most abundant, renewable option for octane in the nation’s fuel supply.

“With the proper policies in place today, we will continue to see the Nebraska ethanol industry as an ever-increasing economic powerhouse for the State of Nebraska,” Berry added.    

To see the full letter from the EPA click here. The explanation of denying 54 of the 68 gap-filling petitions (GFPs) is clarified on page 3.

Safety Professionals Gear up for Virtual training

Safety professionals from across the state will gather virtually for the 16th annual Environment, Health and Safety Summit Tuesday, September 29, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The afternoon summit, presented by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, will feature four speakers, including Doug Fletcher, Fletcher Safety; Eric Sturm and Shawn Zablocki with ARC; and an industry update from Jim Macy, Director of Environment and Energy for the State of Nebraska. The event is presented in cooperation with Renewable Fuels Nebraska, and is open to industry personnel who work in environmental compliance, worker safety, and processing and manufacturing. For registration details and to see the agenda, click here.