EPA approves E30 pilot for state of Nebraska vehicles

By Office of Gov. Pete Ricketts | September 26, 2018

On Sept. 25, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and state agencies welcomed news that the U.S. EPA has approved a project requested by the State of Nebraska to study the use of higher ethanol blends. In the pilot program, the state of Nebraska will study the use of E30 in conventional vehicles owned by the state.

“Thank you to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and his team for approving Nebraska’s E30 pilot project,” said Governor Ricketts. “I appreciate the great work Todd Sneller and Nebraska’s ethanol advocates did in collaboration with the EPA to bring this to fruition. We look forward to piloting the use of Nebraska-grown and produced E30 in state vehicles.”

In recent months, the Governor’s Office, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and state agencies have been working with the EPA on a request to pilot the use of higher ethanol blends in state vehicles. The pilot program will assess the effects of E15 and E30 blends on “vehicle performance, fuel economy, and emissions control systems” in state-owned vehicles. The fuel used in the pilot program will be supplied by Nebraska ethanol companies.

“This demonstration program is designed to evaluate the use of an E30 ethanol blend in conventional vehicles compared to the same type vehicles operating on E10 and E15 blends,” said Sarah Caswell, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “Fuel cost per mile, performance, maintenance and other factors will be included as a part of the project. Several engineering consultants from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will help provide technical expertise during the duration of the project. Approximately 50 vehicles will be involved in the demonstration program. In addition to state fueling sites, six Nebraska fuel marketers have agreed to provide access to E-30 at fueling sites in the state.”

Previously, Ricketts had directed state agencies to order flex fuel vehicles when possible and other vehicles must be compatible with E15. The state has also switched over fuel pumps from E10 to E15, and agencies also have E85 available. These include:

- The Transportation Services Bureau at the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services has switched from E10 to E15. They also offer E85.

- Nebraska Department of Transportation has switched all gas sites from E10 to E15. NDOT has seven sites providing E15 and three sites with E85.

- Nebraska State Patrol vehicles generally utilize E15.

“This E-30 pilot program is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate what we in the corn and ethanol industries have known for a long time,” said Dave Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “By using a 30 percent ethanol blend in standard, non-flex fuel vehicles, we’ll be able to conclusively prove higher ethanol blends are clean-burning and don’t harm or damage engines. By going through this program and through rigorous testing, we’re paving the way for high-performing, renewable options for consumers.”

 The pilot is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. More details will become available as the pilot program gets underway.