In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, 55 community leaders from across the Midwest offered their support to combat “special interests seeking to undercut homegrown biofuels and deprive American farmers of a vital market for U.S. crops.” Among the signers were 11 public officials from Nebraska, including State Senators Williams, Hughes, Watermeier, Linehan, Brasch, Briese, Kolterman, Lowe and Friesen, Regent Paul Kenney and Geneva City Council President Eric Kamler.
The officeholders noted that farm income stands at a 12-year low, leaving “too many families struggling, concerned about foreclosure or worse.” They also cautioned that “the ripple effect of an agricultural decline won’t be limited to rural communities.” To restore growth, they urged Secretary Perdue to act swiftly on the president’s pledge to lift outdated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions against the summer-time sales of E15, a motor fuel containing 15 percent ethanol. Biofuels like ethanol play a central role in driving Nebraska agricultural revenues and rural manufacturing.
“The rules were drafted long before lower-cost E15 was introduced, resulting in standards that restrict E15 while permitting less eco-friendly options to be sold all year,” wrote the community leaders. “A fix cannot come soon enough – for farmers, for biofuels producers, or for drivers who prefer to save money while supporting clean air and American jobs.”
The letter was offered in a show of support for an ongoing campaign organized by Growth Energy, America’s leading trade association of biofuel producers and supporters. Under Growth Energy’s leadership, rural advocates from across the country have urged policymakers in Washington to unleash America’s vast renewable resources to lower fuel prices, strengthen U.S. energy security, protect the climate, and put an end to a farm crisis that threatens to put an entire generation of farmers out of business.
“Starting June 1, outdated federal regulations cut off millions of drivers from a lower-cost fuel that supports farmers and rural manufacturing,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, referring to the EPA rules on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). “President Trump promised Midwest lawmakers that he would fast-track a fix, and Secretary Perdue is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on a solution, but time is running out. Farmers cannot afford to be locked out of the market for another driving season, especially when we could be holding down quickly-rising gas prices.”
In their letter, Midwest officials stressed that farming communities are counting on Secretary Perdue “to be rural America’s most powerful voice in the White House and at the table with the EPA,” where a fix has remained stalled since it was first promised by Administrator Scott Pruitt in 2017.
“E15 makes sense, it’s homegrown, renewable and cheaper. Plus it really adds value to the number one industry in our state”, said Senator Curt Friesen of Henderson, NE, who signed the letter to Secretary Perdue.
Information provided by Growth Energy.