Nebraska passes renewable fuels infrastructure bill

By Matt Thompson | May 31, 2019

Earlier this month Nebraska’s state legislature passed a bill creating a renewable infrastructure grant program, which was signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. The bill, LB 585, creates a grant program to provide financial assistance to retailers who undertake projects to dispense and store E15 or higher blends.

While the bill was passed prior to an expected EPA rule allowing the year-round sale of E15, Sarah Casswell, outgoing administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said the bill wasn’t necessarily designed to coincide with the E15 announcement. “I don’t think that was the primary driver of it,” she said.

She said the state participated in the federal biofuels infrastructure program, and were pleased at the number of pumps that were built in the state using that funding. “We thought that as we’re looking at policies and the need for higher blends of ethanol distribution, that would be an effective way to help incentivize retailers to put in some blender pumps and make higher blends of ethanol more available to consumers.”

Casswell said the Nebraska Ethanol Board supported the legislation. “We were very, very supportive of all efforts to introduce it and get it through the state legislature and we’re very pleased that it did go through the state legislature and will become a statutory program,” she said. Casswell added that the NEB is currently working with ethanol stakeholders in the state to secure funding for the program.

Roger Berry, who will take over as NEB administrator, May 31 said, “The ultimate goal is to eventually get every station in Nebraska to be able to offer that choice to the consumer as they pull up to the pump, so that every consumer has that opportunity to buy a better fuel at a lower cost to them, and keep money in their pockets.”

The grant program will be administered by Nebraska’s Department of Environment and Energy, which will determine the amount of the grants. The bill allows the department to approve up to $1 million in grants each year.