As chairperson of the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, and an ag producer, I’m humbled and proud to promote the successes of agriculture. But even more important is to continue to work on solutions for the challenges facing Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and the rural economy, including burdensome property taxes.
I’m excited about all the future opportunities for Nebraska agriculture, such as our continued success with ethanol. As a leading producer of ethanol, Nebraska ranks second nationally, which is why I’m pleased to join Gov. Pete Ricketts in celebrating Renewable Fuels Month.
It’s been a difficult road to develop the ethanol industry, but the return on that investment has been tremendous for the communities that are home to ethanol plants, the workers at those plants and their families, our farmers and ranchers, and our state’s overall economy.
In February, during the National Ethanol Conference, Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, expressed concerns about the future of the Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) beyond 2022.
Dinneen said “[t]he debate on Capitol Hill is shifting away from repealing the RFS to reforming it after 2022, when the congressionally mandated volumes proscribed in the law are removed and replaced with largely unfettered discretion by EPA to set future standards for all renewable fuels. We need to be active…participants in that debate.”
I agree with Dinneen. I’m not comfortable with leaving the fate of this important industry in the hands of the EPA, which has proven to be a burdensome bureaucracy that lacks accountability and appreciation for the importance of ethanol to the rural economy.
To leave the destiny of corn-based ethanol under the complete control of the EPA beginning in 2023 is unthinkable. As we celebrate Renewable Fuels Month, let us also be mindful that we must work to secure the future of the ethanol industry.
Sen. Lydia Brasch represents District 16 in eastern Nebraska, north of Omaha, in the state legislature.