The Environmental Protection Agency has finally approved the long-awaited rule that will allow E15 to be sold year-round.
This is a wise decision that will benefit not only farmers and the ethanol industry, but also consumers, motorists and the environment.
E15, which is fuel with 15% ethanol, is an exciting addition to the ethanol lineup that for too long has been hindered by a nonsensical EPA rule that prevented it from being sold in the summer months, specifically from May 1 to Sept. 15.
The supposed reason was the thought that a higher ethanol blend would contribute to higher levels of ground-level ozone, leading to health concerns. This antiquated rule has been in place since 1990.
That reasoning has been proven faulty. In fact, the opposite has been shown — that use of ethanol actually improves overall health quality. A recent USDA study showed that corn-based ethanol has 43 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline.
Of course, the benefits to Nebraska of an expanded ethanol market are enormous. Nebraska produces the second most ethanol of any state. The state’s production reached a record high of 2.2 billion gallons last year.
And ethanol has a strong ripple effect in corn country. The greater the demand for ethanol, the greater demand there is for corn. This raises the price of corn, giving more income to farmers in Nebraska. Those farmers then have more income to spend on other items such as vehicles and equipment, giving a boost to the economy throughout the state.
Currently, E10 is the most affordable and most-widely used fuel in the Midwest and a lot of the country. With the new EPA ruling, it is now in the realm of possibility that E15 could grow to surpass E10 in affordability and popularity. If this happens, simple math shows that ethanol demand would increase by at least 5 percent.
Farmers have faced tough times in recent years. Commodity prices have been low. World markets have been disrupted by trade disputes. Property taxes have been high.
A bit of good news is overdue in farm country. And that is just what the E15 announcement is — good news.
The E15 market is no longer hindered by the summer ban. So now, the consumers, ethanol industry and farmers can have some consistency in their production, in the market and in fuel use.
Agriculture and the ethanol industry have pushed for this change for years. President Trump has supported it and now the EPA has followed through and eliminated the antiquated rule that held back the growth of E15.