Sen. Nelson honored with award for ethanol advancement

By Office of Sen. Ben Nelson | August 13, 2012

On August 10 Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said that Nebraska must support both its energy and agriculture industries during the drought, shortly after accepting the Merle Anderson award for his decades of contributions to the advancement of ethanol in the American energy economy.

“Nebraska must continue supporting both its agriculture and energy industries, especially during this horrible drought,” Nelson said. “I recognize the concerns of the livestock industry during this time of stretched resources, but doing away with renewable fuel standards is no solution. That’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, because energy and agriculture are both essential to Nebraska’s economy. The real solution is for the House to pass the Senate’s five-year Farm Bill that improves drought aid for farmers.”

Senator Nelson received the Merle Anderson Award at the 25th Annual American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Conference and Trade Show, held this year in Omaha. The Merle Anderson Award, ACE’s most prestigious award, is named after the founder and first President of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Each year, the award is given to an individual in public service that has made significant contributions to the advancement of ethanol. Past recipients include Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., Sen. Tom Daschle, D-SD, President Jimmy Carter, and USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.

“The hallmark of a good product is when the guy who endorses it actually uses it,” Nelson said, “and I’ve used the stuff for years—even way back when it was called ‘gasohol’ and when it hit the pump at 10 percent.”

Senator Nelson has a proud record of supporting and encouraging the biofuel and renewable energy industries, first as governor of Nebraska, and now as a U.S. Senator for Nebraska. During his tenure as governor of Nebraska, Nelson started the Governor’s Ethanol Coalition to promote ethanol use nationwide. Under Gov. Nelson, Nebraska tripled its ethanol production to 300 million gallons, and currently ranks second in the country for ethanol production.

As a senator, Nelson was part of the successful effort to place the first energy title in a farm bill, in the 2002 Farm Bill. In 2005, he helped pass into law a renewable fuels standard (RFS) with goals for federal renewable energy usage and production—7.5 billion gallons per year by 2012. He helped expand this goal in 2007 with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, growing the RFS to 36 billion gallons by 2022, 21 billion gallons of which must come from advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol.

“Promoting ethanol is promoting agriculture—the fuel is a must-have for Nebraska, and that is why it has been a cause of mine for decades,” said Nelson. “The ethanol industry creates jobs, helps break our reliance on foreign oil, and moves America towards a cleaner energy economy. You can expect me to continue my work in Washington to expand the reach and use of this great fuel.”