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Gulf oil spill underscores need to increase use of clean, green ethanol

Nebraska Corn Board says current policy decisions will have dramatic effect on renewable fuels growth.

LINCOLN, NE – As those along the Gulf Coast work tirelessly to manage a disaster due to an offshore oil drilling accident, this tragic situation provides even greater impetus for others to move the ball forward on renewable fuels. In fact, the Nebraska Corn Board said there are opportunities before Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency right now that will help the United States move toward the broader use of renewable fuels.

In a couple of weeks, Nebraska will be covered by green fields of corn. “Those green fields are a tremendous reminder of the potential and promise of renewable fuels like corn ethanol, and will stand in stark contrast to the images we’ll see from the Gulf,” said Dennis Gengenbach, vice chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Smithfield. “Ethanol is simply the cleanest fuel option. It is renewable, very safe for the environment and does not have the lingering and environmentally damaging impact of oil.”

“At what point do we say enough is enough?” asked Jon Holzfaster, past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and a corn and cattle producer from Paxton. “We need to stay serious about ethanol and biofuels. We need to move forward, stop the oil-funded lies about corn ethanol and move quickly towards increasing the use and availability of all biofuels in our nation’s fuel system.”

Holzfaster is also chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently completing an analysis that, if approved, will allow up to 15 percent ethanol blends to be used across the country. The current standard is 10 percent ethanol, or e10. “Increasing the blend rate is necessary if we want to have a more significant impact on where our fuels come from,” Holzfaster said. “Moving to e15 is a step, and an important one at that. We can’t get to a renewable fuel future without allowing fuel blenders to increase how much they can blend.”

Another important component is passing legislation to extend the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC). VEETC, currently set to expire in December, provides oil refiners and fuel blenders a 45-cent per gallon tax credit on each gallon of ethanol they blend. The credit provides an important incentive to invest in equipment to blend and use ethanol from all sources, which in turn supports growth and advancements in the entire sector, Holzfaster said.

“VEETC is another tool to keep us moving in the right direction,” he said. “It means continued investment, continued jobs growth in rural communities and, importantly, increased use of ethanol in the future.”

At the same time, Gengenbach said, automakers need to make the switch to flex fuel vehicles so more motorists will have the option to use higher ethanol blends, including e85, a fuel that contains 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. “We’re working to increase the availability of e85 blender pumps, which is important, but at the same time we need to encourage the production and adoption of flex fuel vehicles,” he said.

Gengenbach added that hundreds of miles of oil floating in the Gulf and washing ashore – and more than 200,000 gallons a day pouring out of a well 5,000 feet below the surface – is certainly a tragedy. “We need to look at this as an opportunity to step back and learn, to better understand the impact of oil and realize there are environmentally friendly and cleaner alternatives,” he said.

The Nebraska Corn Board is a self-help program, funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest in the program at a rate of 1/4 of a cent per bushel of corn sold. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education.

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Nebraska Corn Board works to promote the value of corn by creating opportunities.

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Nebraska Corn Board
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