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Nebraska Takes Important Step to Increasing Ethanol Use

March 23, 2011


Recognizing the efficacy and safety of 10 percent ethanol blends (E10), Nebraska State Senator Mark Christensen is championing a bill that would lift the state requirement for gas pumps offering E10 to carry a label.  The bill, LB 698, passed its first hurdle yesterday in a vote of 25-12. This is from the Associated Press out of Lincoln, Nebraska, "A bill that would lift labeling requirements on Nebraska gas with less than 11 percent ethanol has cleared its first legislative vote, but could change when lawmakers consider the measure again.  The measure's supporters say mandatory labeling creates a false impression that ethanol is worse than other chemicals in gas. Opponents say consumers have a right to know what they put in their tanks." Removing labels for E10 in other states has proven to be a boost to ethanol sales.  States such as Kansas and Michigan all saw impressive increases in ethanol sales following the removal of unnecessary labels at the pump. The RFA is supportive of Sen. Christensen's effort.  Yesterday, RFA Chairman and CEO of KAAPA Ethanol in Minden, Nebraska Chuck Woodside wrote to all the state's senators in support of this bill.  His letter in its entirety is below.  Stay tuned for more details as a second vote in the Senate is expected soon.

March 22, 2011 Dear Senator, The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) would like to express its support for LB 698. Passage of this legislation would be a positive move for the state, its ethanol industry, and all consumers purchasing fuel. For nearly 30 years, ethanol has proven to be a safe and effective component in the nation's gasoline supply. Blends of 10 percent ethanol, known as E10, have been tested in all engine types produced for use in the United States and the original engine manufacturers have all extended warranty coverage for such blends. Specifically, all automobiles produced since the early 1980's have been designed to operate on E10 with some even recommending the use of E10 fuels. Additionally, small engines, motorcycles and marine equipment share the same ability. The efficacy and safety of E10 ethanol blends has been clearly demonstrated by the hundreds of millions of miles driven and countless hours operated on ethanol blends. Some detractors of ethanol and this legislation contend fuel economy loss with E10 is so dramatic that consumers must be informed when gasoline contains ethanol. In theory, E10 blends would produce a 3% loss in mileage on a BTU basis when compared to conventional gasoline. By comparison, this is less than driving on a tire with low air pressure. In fact, many drivers will experience little to any impact with the cost-savings provided by ethanol blends offsetting any mileage reduction. Some petroleum marketers and critics also contend that consumers need to know if ethanol is in their gasoline, but they don't require the same reporting for other more toxic ingredients. Gasoline contains suspected carcinogens and other substances hazardous to human health like benzene and naphthalene, yet no label is required to inform consumers. Ethanol, by comparison, is a biodegradable ingredient and one that does not pose the same human health risks. Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producing state – home to 24 ethanol plants that directly employ some 1,200 Nebraskans and represent $5 billion in capital investments. Despite this prominence, consumption of its own product lags behind many states on a percentage of gasoline basis. States like Maryland, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and California have more E10 sales as a percentage of overall gasoline sales than Nebraska. In fact, nearly every state in the Union has a higher percentage. Removing unnecessary labels for ethanol blends up to E10 will result in a nearly overnight increase in ethanol use in the state and create additional jobs and economic opportunity for dozens of small and rural Nebraska communities. As Chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association and the CEO of KAAPA Ethanol in Minden, Nebraska, I encourage you to support this legislation on behalf of the entire ethanol industry. Ethanol provides the only readily available alternate to imported oil we have today and helps to create the kind of economic and job opportunities so desperately needed in rural Nebraska and America.