Nebraska Orders State Fleet to Use Biofuels

Employees now required to use E85 and biodiesel whenever available with a reasonable distance.

Published: 23-May-2005

 May 20, 2005 -- Gov. Dave Heineman today in Kearney announced an executive order directing all state agencies that use fleet vehicles to require state employees to use E85 ethanol and biodiesel fuel whenever available within a reasonable distance, while operating the state’s flexible-fuel or diesel-powered vehicles.

 The order also requires the Nebraska Transportation Services Bureau and the Department of Roads to take steps to increase the access to E85 ethanol fuel and 2 percent biodiesel for drivers of the state’s flexible-fuel and diesel-powered vehicles.

“This order benefits all Nebraskans,” Gov. Heineman said. “The use of ethanol blends and biodiesel fuels is important to our rural communities. It benefits our cities and our environment as well, all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We all save money when state government pays less for fuel.

“My hope is that in leading by example, the state will send a message to retailers, car manufacturers and drivers that buying alternative fuels is a mainstream pursuit, ripe with economic opportunity for Nebraska.”

The state already requires fleet vehicles to use E10 unleaded, a readily available fuel with 10 percent ethanol. Nebraska was the first state to mandate the use of E10, beginning in 1980. The steps announced today will expand state government’s use of alternative fuels.

The Department of Roads has 290 E85-capable cars, trucks or minivans, which represents more than a fifth of its light-duty fleet. The department has 2,300 vehicles or pieces of equipment that burn diesel fuel. The Nebraska Transportation Services Bureau has 545 E85-capable vehicles making up more than half its fleet, as well as three diesel trucks. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has 16 E85-capable vehicles and 62 diesel vehicles. Across Nebraska, the Department of Roads has 99 diesel tanks for the refueling of fleet vehicles and operates three E85 tanks, two in Lincoln and one in Grand Island.

Earlier this week, the Governor announced the opening of a commercial E85 ethanol pump in Lincoln, raising the number of fueling stations selling E85 statewide to 15. Sales of the 85 percent ethanol blend for use in flexible-fuel vehicles are expected to triple this year.

Nebraska fueling stations sold more than 500,000 gallons of E85 in 2004. The state ranks third in U.S. corn production, producing approximately 1.1 billion bushels annually, and produces more than 520 million gallons of ethanol annually at 11 ethanol plants. Estimates show that roughly a quarter of the state’s corn crop goes into ethanol production.

Todd Sneller of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said, “This is good news for ethanol producers in Nebraska. Any time our state makes a commitment of this size to our home-grown products, we know that retailers will respond with additional fueling sites.”

Biodiesel at the 2 percent level, which is safe for any diesel-burning vehicle is available at more than 200 stations in Nebraska. While corn growers are promoting the establishment of E85, soybean producers are in the midst of a push toward 20 percent biodiesel. According to a recent survey cited by the Soybean Board, more than 60 percent of Nebraska’s agricultural producers use biodiesel in their farm operations. Nebraska ranked fifth in U.S. soybean production last year, producing 221 million bushels.

Victor Bohuslavsky of the Nebraska Soybean Board said, “We are pleased the Governor has recognized the increasing importance of biodiesel to soybean producers and our environment. This order is an important step in the continued growth of Nebraska biodiesel.”

The Governor made his announcement today at the Bosselman Pump and Pantry on Second Avenue in Kearney, one of the few fueling stations statewide where drivers can buy E10, E85 and 2 percent biodiesel.

Greg Ibach, the incoming director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, in Washington to discuss agricultural issues with federal officials, said, “Our producers will benefit from growth in usage of renewable fuels, particularly corn and grain sorghum ethanol and soy-based biodiesel blends. These value-added products represent yet another market for our raw commodities. Adding value to our products here at home helps our farmers get a better return on their investment and has an overall positive effect on our state’s economy.”

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