September 15, 2014

Homegrown, Renewable Fuels provide Energy Independence


September is Renewable Fuels Month!
Part Three of a Four-Part Series for Renewable Fuels Month

Corn ear for Agriculture Photo Project. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsBiodiesel and ethanol, two energy sources made from soybeans and corn, respectively, are homegrown and locally produced. For Renewable Fuels Month in September, Nebraska farmers celebrate these homegrown crops and their abundant number of renewable uses.

In Nebraska last year, farmers raised 252 million bushels of soybeans and 1.6 billion bushels of corn. And that number is growing. From these two crops, fuel sources, livestock feed and thousands of food products are created – right here in Nebraska, as well as across the U.S.

Homegrown, renewable fuels contribute to our energy independence and security.  Over 1,500 are employed in rural Nebraska because of renewable fuels. Nationwide, more than 850,000 jobs are supported by renewable fuels, according to an economic impact study by John Dunham & Associates recently released by the Fuels America coalition.

The Dunham & Associates report tells the story of an innovative, advanced renewable fuels and biofuels industry that is producing growing benefits for America’s economy. Part of the effort in contributing towards an expanded biofuels industry is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “The data is in: The RFS is driving billions of dollars of economic activity across America,” the report concludes. “This is the result of years of investment by the biofuel sector to bring clean, low carbon renewable fuels to market.”

Renewable fuels represent nearly 10% of America’s fuel supply and have helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil to the lowest level in years.Harvest on October, 4, 2010, east of Lincoln in Lancaster and Saunders counties. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

In 2007, the RFS program was expanded to include biodiesel, increased the amount of fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel to 36 billion gallons in 2022, created new categories of renewable fuels including advanced, cellulosic, and conventional and evaluated the lifecycle of greenhouse gases to ensure each category was meeting a minimum threshold.

The RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do.  “In 2013, we reduced our imported crude oil by 462 million barrels and 1.1 billion gallons of imported petroleum diesel,” said David Merrell, corn farmer and District 7 director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Each year we are producing more renewable fuels in the United States. They are supporting the local farmer and provide as much as $3 million in tax revenue for Nebraska.”

The RFS is reducing our dependency on imported oil, providing a homegrown, locally produced renewable fuel, creating jobs, providing tax revenue, and more.  Renewable fuels are a win-win situation for the farmers, rural communities, and consumers.

Merrell added, “With the diversity of products we can make from these two crops, Nebraska consumers should feel great about using renewable products, like ethanol and biodiesel that come from a homegrown crop grown each year across the state.”

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