President’s approval helps supporters of American Ethanol
Hastings, NE — As tensions rise with a key ally in the Middle East, Nebraska farmers say it shows the need to use a domestic fuel like ethanol.
Supporters of biofuels were ecstatic, as Pres. Donald Trump announced he was asking the EPA to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold year-round.
“My administration is protecting ethanol,” Pres. Trump said at a stop in Council Bluffs.
A Nebraska state senator got the news up close, that the president had given the direction on E15.
“The whole crowd just erupted in cheer when he announced that,” said Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings.
But as the crowd fades, there’s now a process to roll out higher ethanol blends.
Plants like Chief Ethanol in Hastings can get it to the terminals, and they say many gas stations are ready.
“For them to have the infrastructure, the pumps, the tanks, and everything… it’s already there so this could be a fairly quick rollout,” said Duane Kristensen, general manager at Chief.
But some convenience store chains will have to upgrade, if they don’t already have the pumps for higher blends.
Troy Bredenkamp of Renewable Fuels Nebraska said, “It’s an expensive proposition for them, so it’s a big upfront cost so I think the more we can get cost share dollars.”
Groups like the Nebraska Corn Board can provide money to help gas stations, and farmers are putting the pressure on.
“Ask your retailer to add E15 and higher blends of ethanol,” said Jan tenBensel of Cambridge.
Ethanol supporters say it’s time to be aggressive, especially given tensions with a major foreign supplier of oil.
“We’d rather buy products from ourselves, our own Nebraska friends and neighbors instead of buying products from the middle east, Saudi Arabia,” tenBensel said.
Kristensen said, “Get threatened by a perceived ally of ours about raising crude oil up to $200 a barrel, when we have fuel here we can provide that gives us better performance and ultimately cleaner environment.”
Troy Bredenkamp, of Renewable Fuels Nebraska said plants like Chief Ethanol in Hastings won’t feel the impact for a while, as they’re hopeful the bureaucratic process can be done within a matter of months.
He said, “We need to continue to put public pressure on so that indeed happens on a timeframe where that happens by next summer’s driving season.”
A bus that’s been traveling the country with the message “E15 Now” is instead on a thank you tour and stopped in Hastings on Monday.