USDA Opens Fuel Retailer Incentive Program on July 1, 2023

LINCOLN, NEB – This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to accept $450 million in grant applications for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The funding, which comes from designation within the Inflation Reduction Act, will have application windows that run quarterly from July 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024. Approximately $90 million will be made available each quarter to fueling stations, stores and facilities who implement higher ethanol blends such as E15 and higher, and biodiesel blends greater than 5 percent, such as B20.

According to USDA, awards to successful applicants will be in the form of cost-share grants for up to 75 percent of total eligible project costs, but not to exceed $5 million, whichever is less. Full program instructions and details, including changes made to improve HBIIP, can be found at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/energy-programs/higher-blends-infrastructure-incentive-program.

“Investing in infrastructure just makes sense for a retailer to keep their equipment up-to-date,” said Reid Wagner, executive director for the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB). “Grant assistance, especially in conjunction with modified tax credits from the recently passed E15 Access Standard in Nebraska (LB562), makes these investments economical. These funds are a great opportunity for all retailers to invest in higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E30 to provide a healthier fuel choice to all our Nebraska communities. We appreciate the USDA re-opening this program and helping support our mission of making ethanol more widely available.”

The purpose of the HBIIP is to significantly increase the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. The program is also intended to encourage a more comprehensive approach to market higher blends by sharing the costs related to building out biofuel-related infrastructure.

NEB compiled resources to make the application process easier, including a brief titled Infrastructure Compatibility with Higher Blends of Ethanol. Access this tool on the agency website at here. Applicants may reach out to the NEB office with any questions at 402-471-2941.

Renewable Fuel Standard 2023-2025 Final Set Rule Issued by EPA

Lincoln, Nebraska – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the final set rule of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The rule sets renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the next three calendar years. The total renewable fuel RVOs in the final rule are 20.94 billion gallons for 2023, 21.54 billion gallons for 2024, and 22.33 billion gallons for 2025. The conventional renewable fuel RVO, which includes corn ethanol, is set at 15 billion gallons for 2023, 2024, and 2025 each year. Overall, the RVOs in the final rule include lower volumes for advanced, cellulosic, and conventional biofuels and higher volumes for biomass-based diesel than the originally proposed rule published Dec. 30, 2022.

“While we are encouraged that EPA continues to call for higher volumes of renewable fuels year over year, we are disappointed that the final RVOs are significantly lower than originally proposed for conventional and cellulosic biofuels,” said Reid Wagner, executive director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB). “Our current ethanol infrastructure has the capacity today to easily meet the originally-proposed 15.25 billion gallon conventional biofuel requirement, and a growing number of ethanol producers are deploying technologies for processing corn kernel fiber into ethanol, which will contribute significant volumes of cellulosic biofuel soon. Ensuring adequate RVOs aids in market development as the ethanol industry works to expand access to its products. By sidelining these low-carbon biofuels options, EPA is effectively leaving tools in the box that could be used to accomplish their decarbonization goals.”

The final rule also includes a cumulative 550-million-gallon increase in the biomass-based diesel RVO, from the originally proposed rule. “In sectors that are more difficult to electrify, namely heavy-duty transport, renewable diesel and biodiesel will continue to play a key role in decarbonization efforts,” Wagner said. “The final biomass-based diesel RVO is certainly trending in the right direction, but still may not be sufficient to capture the rapid growth in capacity of renewable diesel and biodiesel production.”

The final set rule also did not include provisions related to RINs generated from renewable electricity (eRINs), as it did when it was first proposed.

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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E15 Access Standard Act Signed Into Law by Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Lawmakers have passed a bill to increase consumer access to E15 in Nebraska. LB562, introduced by State Sen. Myron Dorn, includes requirements for motor fuel retailers in Nebraska to sell E15 from at least 50% of their dispensers starting in 2024 if they build a new motor fuel site or replace more than 80% of the motor fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure at an existing site. Gov. Jim Pillen signed the bill, known as the E15 Access Standard Act, into law today.

“Nine out of 10 fuel retailers in Nebraska will be able to offer E15 without expensive upgrades to their fuel infrastructure and dispensing system,” said Reid Wagner, Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) executive director. “The framework created through LB562 offers a pathway to increase access to higher blends while minimizing costs to fuel retailers and maximizing savings for consumers.”

If the statewide ethanol blend rate (the average percentage of ethanol in each gallon of fuel) is below 14% in 2027, the bill requires fuel retailers to offer E15 from at least one dispenser at each retail location. The bill also provides for an increased income tax credit for fuel retailers offering higher blends of ethanol: $0.08 per gallon of E15 sold in 2024, $0.09 per gallon in 2025, $0.08 per gallon in 2026, $0.07 per gallon in 2027, and $0.05 per gallon in 2028.

“This is a great day for Nebraska’s drivers,” NEB Chairman Jan tenBensel said. “Having the option to choose lower‑cost, lower-carbon E15 at fuel stations all around the state is a big win for consumers, farmers, and value-added agriculture.”

E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and gasoline, is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for vehicles model year 2001 and newer. Visit fueledbynebraska.com to learn about which blend of ethanol to use and to find retailers near you.

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.

For Additional High Quality Images Contact:
Jessica Sodeke, Nebraska Ethanol Board
jessica.sodeke@nebraska.gov

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Gov. Pillen (holding bill), state senators, agricultural leaders, and renewable fuels advocates celebrate the signing of LB562.

Nebraska Ethanol Board June 9th Board Meeting to be held in Lincoln

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Lincoln at 12 p.m. Friday, June 9. The meeting will be at Hyatt Place (600 Q Street) in meeting room one. The agenda is as follows:

  1. Call Meeting to Order
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Approval of Feb. 23, 2023, Board Meeting Minutes
  4. Public Opportunity for Questions, Comments or Concerns
  5. Working Lunch
  6. Budget Report & Budget Planning Fiscal Year 2023-24
  7. Economic Impact Study Update
  8. Fuel Retailer Update
  9. Nebraska Corn Board Update
  10. Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
  11. Technical & Research Updates
  12. Marketing Programs
  13. NEB-hosted Conferences & Events
  14. Travel Reports and Authorization
  15. State and Federal Legislation
  16. Ethanol Plant Reports
  17. Chair’s Report
  18. Executive Director’s Report
  19. Next Meeting Date
  20. Personnel
  21. Executive Session
  22. Personnel (Continued)
  23. 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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Nebraska Celebrates Renewable Fuels Month this May

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Renewable Fuels Month highlights the importance of renewable biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, especially for Nebraskans. The month of May usually marks the beginning of the summer driving season, making it an ideal time to fuel up on clean and cost-saving biofuels.

Both biodiesel and ethanol help to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil, boost our nation’s economy, and support thousands of jobs in rural communities.

Ethanol is the third largest Nebraska agriculture commodity, and the use of a 10% blend saves Nebraskans $275 million per year. Nebraska is also the second largest producer of ethanol in the country.

Biodiesel adds 70 cents per bushel to the value of soybeans. Increased demand for soybean oil to make biodiesel also increases the supply of soybean meal, leading to lower animal feed prices paid by poultry and livestock farmers. Biodiesel can reduce lifecycle emissions by 86% compared to petroleum-based diesel fuel. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ethanol blends reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% compared to regular gasoline.

“Nebraska agriculture is well-positioned to greatly impact the country’s transition to be less carbon-intensive. While new technologies find their footing, corn and soybeans grown right here in Nebraska will continue to feed and fuel the world for a long time,” said Sherry Vinton, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. “Nebraska is blessed to not only have the land, the tools, and the natural resources for a thriving agriculture industry, but also the farmers and producers who continue to nurture the commodities that, over many decades, have made Nebraska what it is—an agriculture powerhouse. Please celebrate this hard work with us throughout May. Fill up with biofuels, save money, and tell others of the importance of renewable fuels to our state and communities.” 

Owners of vehicles 2001 and newer can safely use blends of ethanol up to E15 (15% ethanol) and will often enjoy significant savings per gallon. Owners of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) can use blends up to E85 and experience even greater savings. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles can also lower emissions by filling up with biodiesel blends of 20% (B20) or higher. Find locations near you at biodieselne.com.

Fueled by Nebraska, a partnership of Nebraska biofuels organizations, and the Nebraska Soybean Board, invite you to join them to celebrate renewable fuels in your classrooms, at work, and in your community this May. Learn more and find ethanol retail locations at fueledbynebraska.com.

During Renewable Fuels Month, Fueled by Nebraska and the Nebraska Soybean Board will host giveaways, student contests, radio interviews, fuel promotions, and more. To participate, visit facebook.com/fueledbynebraska.

Important Renewable Fuels Month Dates

  • May 4: Gov. Jim Pillen will declare May as Renewable Fuels Month 
  • May 8, 15, 22, and 29: Tune into our weekly Renewable Fuels Month segment on Pure Nebraska with Jon Vanderford. Watch 10/11’s Pure Nebraska live weekdays from 9-9:30 a.m. and Sundays at 7:30 a.m.
  • May 17: Renewable Fuels Month student contest deadlines

Fueled by Nebraska is a partnership of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the Nebraska Corn Board, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska to ensure strong markets for biofuels.

The Nebraska Soybean Board collects and disburses the Nebraska share of funds generated by the one-half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold. Nebraska soybean checkoff funds are invested in research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

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