Year-Round E15 Sale Approved For Nebraska Starting in 2025

LINCOLN, Nebraska – The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) welcomes the final rule published today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will approve a request from several Midwest governors, including Nebraska. The rule equalizes E10 and E15 regulations, allowing the year-round sale of E15 in the governors’ respective states beginning in 2025.

“We’re excited that the continued persistence of Gov. Pillen and his colleagues has paid off,” NEB Executive Director Reid Wagner said. “Consumers deserve the option of low-cost, low-carbon E15 year-round. It’s great news that Nebraska drivers will have that option permanently beginning in 2025. Unfortunately, this rule also leaves those same drivers without an option for the summer 2024 driving season. We look forward to working with the EPA on ways that we can secure the uninterrupted sale of E15 for this summer.”

Eight Midwest governors originally requested year-round E15 sales from the EPA in 2022, including then-Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. Various delays in the approval process eventually resulted in Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers suing the EPA last year. The EPA published the final rule today, effectively clearing the last hurdle on the long‑awaited change.

“The NEB has long pushed for a permanent fix to E15 regulation,” Wagner said. “Although this rule will allow year-round E15 sales in only the eight Midwestern states who originally requested it, this is a major step in allowing consumers to choose E15 throughout the year without the need for temporary waivers or other measures. We will continue to push for a nationwide legislative fix to allow E15 year-round, and urge Congress to swiftly adopt legislation to resolve this issue beyond the Midwest.”

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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Nebraska Ethanol Board Welcomes Tracy Zink to the Board

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Tracy Zink, who farms in Indianola, Nebraska, joins the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) as the sorghum representative. She was appointed by Gov. Jim Pillen on Nov. 20, 2023, and confirmed by the State of Nebraska Legislature in early 2024.

A third-generation agricultural producer, Zink farms sorghum and a rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat on both irrigated and dryland acres. She markets some of her grains to Trenton Agri Products, an ethanol plant in Trenton, Nebraska.

“It is an exciting time to be joining this long-standing and successful board,” Zink said. “I have observed the significant impact that ethanol has in expanding marketing options, and I am very excited to be joining a board who has a purpose to promote a product that sustains both the agriculture industry and our planet.”

In addition to her appointment to the NEB, Zink holds positions on the Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association; the Middle Republican Natural Resources District; Nebraska Rural Radio Association; and the Nebraska Extension in Red Willow County Board. She was appointed to the National Sorghum Checkoff Board by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2023.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tracy Zink to the board,” said Jan tenBensel, NEB chairman. “She brings a wealth of experience from the technology and advanced practices she’s incorporated on her farm, along with a strong background of leadership positions in multiple sectors.”

Zink tests out new strategies and technologies as a yearly participant in the University of Nebraska Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program. In 2022, she received the honor of the TAPS Sorghum Triple Crown Winner for the greatest grain yield, highest input-use efficiency, and the most profitable farm and in 2023, she was recognized as Outstanding TAPS Advocate. According to TAPS, participants receive plots of land and make their own individual input on the same field as competitors. These decisions include crop insurance, hybrid and seeding rate, nitrogen timing and amount, irrigation timing and amount, and, lastly, marketing of their crop. The competition is focused on evolving profitability and input-use efficiency. Zink will be the first competitor to introduce irrigated sorghum in 2024. Other crop management practices she will test in the future include sidedressing and how many applications make it beneficial.

Zink’s interest in agriculture comes from working alongside her father on the family farm. However, her strength in athleticism drew her to a career in professional athletics and recreation. After high school, she attended the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1994, earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in sports administration from West Texas A&M in 1996. This led to multiple roles within the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Continuing with the health and wellness industry, Zink spent many years helping seniors stay healthy as a fitness trainer and helped clients transition into senior housing. She returned to the family farm in 2012, where she is now dedicated to the health and wellness of its soil, water and crops.

“As you look out and around, none of this would be possible if we weren’t incredibly mindful about proper stewardship, soil conservation, and managing wind and water erosion,” Zink said of Nebraska agriculture. “I look forward to finding ways for those outside of farming to better learn our story, as it is crucial to fully understanding ethanol’s low carbon footprint.”

Outgoing NEB sorghum representative, Tim Else (Belvidere, Neb.), served five terms on the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“With our greatest appreciation, we thank our dear colleague and friend, Tim Else, for his service to the ethanol and agricultural community,” tenBensel said. “Through 20 years of dedicated service as a Nebraska Ethanol Board member, Tim contributed invaluable institutional knowledge and leadership.”

The NEB is a seven-member board that includes four members actively engaged in farming (general farming, corn, wheat and sorghum), one member representing labor interests, one member representing petroleum marketers, and one member representing business. The Board’s technical advisor serves as a non-voting member. Members of the NEB are appointed by the governor, and confirmed by the Nebraska Legislature, to serve four-year terms.

Zink joins current board members: Jan tenBensel, chairman (Cambridge, Neb.); Scott McPheeters, vice chairman (Gothenburg, Neb.); Randy Gard, secretary (Grand Island, Neb.); Brad Bird, board member (Omaha, Neb.); Taylor Nelson, board member (Jackson, Neb.); Mike Thede, board member (Palmer, Neb.); and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical Engineering Professor Dr. Hunter Flodman, who serves as NEB’s technical advisor. The Board reelected tenBensel, McPheeters and Gard as executive committee officers at the Dec. 4 meeting.

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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Tracy Zink received confirmation from the State of Nebraska Legislature in February 2024 to be the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s next sorghum representative.
The Nebraska Ethanol Board acknowledges and appreciates Tim Else’s 20 years of service to the agency as the sorghum representative. He retired at the end of his term on Aug. 31, 2023.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Feb. 9th board meeting to be held in Lincoln

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Lincoln at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9th. The meeting will be held at the agency headquarters located at 245 Fallbrook Blvd, Lincoln, Neb., in the lower-level hearing room 031. The agenda is as follows:

  1. Call Meeting to Order
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Approval of Dec. 4, 2023, Board Meeting Minutes
  4. Public Opportunity for Questions, Comments or Concerns
  5. Working Lunch
  6. Budget Report
  7. Renewable Fuels Nebraska update
  8. Nebraska Corn Board update
  9. Fuel Retailer update
  10. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Manufacturing Extension Partnership update
  11. Economic Impact Study update
  12. State and Federal Legislation
  13. Ethanol Plant Reports
  14. NEB-hosted Conferences & Events
  15. Technical & Research updates
  16. Travel Reports and Authorization
  17. Next Meeting Date
  18. Marketing Programs
  19. Chair’s Report
  20. Executive Director’s Report
  21. Adjourn

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature. Nebraska Ethanol Board meetings are open to the public and also published on the public calendar.

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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USDA Awards Biofuel Infrastructure Grants in Nebraska; More Funds Available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $19 million worth of Higher Blend Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants in 22 states, benefiting 16 Nebraska retail locations across the state.

Launched in July 2023 with a $450 million budget, HBIIP aims to boost sustainable fuel markets by supporting ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure improvements. The current application window closes on March 31, 2024. Additional application windows will follow until funds are exhausted. Check out the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s HBIIP 101 for application deadlines, resources for grant writing and technical support, webinars, and tips on making the application process easier.

The USDA encourages fuel retailers of all sizes to apply, sharing costs for biofuel-related infrastructure development. The program has a targeted assistance goal of 50% of funding going toward those owning 10 or fewer stations. Priority will be given to applications who meet geographic diversity points, such as being the only station within a one-mile radius and/or stations located within one mile of the interstate that are easily accessible.

Biofuels are vital for energy security, air pollution reduction, and rural economic development. According to the USDA, about 96 percent – roughly 220 million – of the vehicles on U.S. roads today may legally use E15. This includes vehicles with model year 2001 and newer that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved. Additionally, one in 10 Nebraskans driving flex fuel vehicles can use higher blends up to E85. B20, a biodiesel blend which ranges from 6% to 20% biodiesel with petroleum diesel, is compatible with all diesel vehicles.

HBIIP significantly increases the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. Since the current program’s 2020 debut, USDA has invested more than $77.8 million in projects expected to increase biofuels sales by 1.2 billion gallons annually. Additionally, the Nebraska Higher Blend Tax Credit Act offers a meaningful tax incentive for retailers offering higher ethanol blends. Retailers can receive a tax credit in the amount of 8 cents per gallon sold of E15 and 8 cents per gallon sold of blends containing 25% ethanol and above for calendar year 2024. The credits in varying amounts last through 2028.

The expansion of biofuel infrastructure broadens the availability of renewable fuels like E15, E85, and B20, which helps Nebraskans save money at the pump while reducing carbon emissions and harmful tailpipe pollution. Expanded use of higher blends of biofuels in Nebraska also supports corn and soybean farmers and contributes billions to the state’s annual GDP.

E Energy Adams Recognized as Cancer Crusader for Fuel the Cure Support

E Energy Adams has been recognized as the 2023 Fuel the Cure Cancer Crusader for the second year in a row. The Nebraska ethanol producer showed incredible support by spreading awareness about the campaign to farmers, haulers, employees, students, and the community at various events. They also doubled the donation from Fuel the Cure retailer Frontier Cooperative in Adams. Pictured, from left: Jessica Sodeke, marketing and outreach coordinator, Nebraska Ethanol Board; Jon Cosby, CEO, E Energy Adams; and Tracey Dean, commodities accountant, E Energy Adams.

On Jan. 19, 2024, E Energy Adams, an ethanol producer in Adams, Nebraska, received recognition as the Fuel the Cure Cancer Crusader for going above-and-beyond to support the annual campaign – which raises thousands of dollars each year for cancer research and educates others about healthier fuel options, highlighting ethanol’s role in displacing toxic aromatics in gasoline.

Throughout October, when drivers fill up with higher blends of ethanol fuel like E15, E30 and E85 at participating Fuel the Cure gas stations, it triggers a three-cent donation for each gallon sold. Fuel retailers alone raised $18,733 this past year, and the six-year campaign total has grown to $64,572. The campaign’s grand total comprises additional contributions from industry partners and participating Nebraska ethanol plants. This includes Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson and E Energy Adams.

“E Energy is excited to be involved and to support a great cause like Fuel the Cure. Nearly everyone has been impacted by cancer in some way,” said Tracey Dean, commodities accountant. “We also want our customers to know we appreciate them, and that the corn they grow to make ethanol and its co-products are providing positive health impacts too.”

E Energy employees and FFA students from nearby Freeman High School spread the word about Fuel the Cure during harvest when they handed out sack lunches to 150 producers, dried distillers’ grain haulers, and employees – taking the opportunity to raise support for breast cancer and educate about ethanol’s contribution to reducing cancer risks. They also promoted the campaign at school-sponsored sporting events.

Additionally, E Energy pledged to double donations from Frontier Cooperative in Adams, who has participated in the campaign since it began in 2018. Located just a mile from the plant, E Energy provides the homegrown ethanol to the station.

Supporting Cancer Research Improves Survival Rates

Donations from fuel retailers benefit the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, a nationally distinguished cancer facility that uses the most advanced biomedical and technological tools available to identify the causes behind cancer to create precise therapies for each cancer patient. This includes Nebraskans, as well as cancer fighters worldwide.

Breast cancer survivor Jenn Klein emphasizes the profound impact of cancer research, saying, “Several medications saved my life.” A funded researcher discovered two of the four chemotherapy treatments she underwent. Klein’s journey showcases the importance of continuous funding and support for groundbreaking treatments that offer hope to countless lives.

Fuel the Cure also sponsors the American Cancer Society of Nebraska’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and provides vital funding to the Heartland Cancer Foundation, assisting over 300 Nebraska cancer patients with fuel costs by way of ethanol gift cards.  

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women in the U.S. However, thanks to funded research, the mortality rate for those battling cancer is declining. Currently, 1-in-8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The Cancer Center treats all forms of cancer, emphasizing that men face a 1-in-2 chance of a cancer diagnosis while women face a 1-in-3 chance. For in-depth information on health risks associated with gasoline aromatics and the Fuel the Cure initiative, visit fueledbynebraska.com/pink.

Fuel the Cure founders Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska are gearing up for the 2024 campaign. They invite Nebraska fuel retailers selling higher ethanol blends and Nebraska ethanol producers to connect with Jessica Sodeke, communications and outreach manager for the Nebraska Ethanol Board, at Jessica.sodeke@nebraska.gov for participation details.