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So, what does a Nebraska State Senator do when the Legislature is not in session? Well, the best answer I can think of to this question would be fishing, but the truth is that I have actually been quite busy serving the needs of the State since we adjourned in late May. So today, I would like to inform you about what I’ve been up to.
Throughout the summer months I have been traveling the district getting signatures for the petition drive to put the ballot initiative for the 35 Percent Solution on the 2020 ballot. This is the ballot initiative which will lower your property taxes by 35 percent.
The petition drive is going very well! I hope you will sign it. Many people have told me they have already signed the petition, which is always good news to hear. The people of Legislative District 47 understand that the most pressing issue facing our State is property taxes.
As I have worked my way through all of the county fairs in the ten counties which comprise Legislative District 47, I have talked with many folks who are struggling under the burden of these exorbitant property taxes. For instance, one rancher told me that he pays $125 in property taxes for every cow he has on his ranch. Similarly, homeowners have also shared with me their stories. For example one couple told me when they bought their house 30 years ago their monthly mortgage payment plus their taxes and insurance was less than the amount of their property taxes.
Attending our county fairs is always the highlight of my summer. I hope to see as many constituents from Legislative District 47 at the fair as possible this year. As we inch our way towards fall, though, I will be turning my attention to the many festivals, community celebrations and parades in Western Nebraska. Along the way, I will be sharing with even more people my goal of lowering property taxes by 35 percent.
Because of the various committees I serve on in the Nebraska Legislature, I am also involved in several Interim studies. These Interim studies will continue throughout the fall. So just because we are not in session doesn’t mean that I’m out fishing every day. Instead, many of us State Senators are busy doing what you sent us there to do, and that means representing you and your best interests.
During the off season I am also busy writing legislation for next year. For instance, I am working to improve the bill I introduced last year to change the way we value agricultural land for taxation purposes. Nebraska needs to scrap the current sales or market approach and switch to a productivity or income approach, and that’s what my bill does. Had this change been made 20 years ago, we would not have seen such sharp increases in agricultural land valuations over the course of the past two decades.
I am also working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to change some of their policies. For instance, NDOT is changing their regulations to allow folks in agriculture to cross four-lane divided highways with their ATVs and UTVs. NDOT is also creating a new policy for highway memorial signs. Soon families of victims will be able to request a highway memorial sign be place at the site of a fatal and tragic accident. These were two bills I introduced this year that got the attention of NDOT. As a result, NDOT is changing their regulations to make our roads much more user friendly.
I have also been working to help find a solution to the irrigation canal collapse in eastern Wyoming near Fort Laramie. An economic evaluation has been completed by the University of Nebraska and the University of Wyoming on the economic impact of this incident. Their estimate is $89 million in combined economic losses due to the collapse of the irrigation canal. This will have a significant economic impact on our State. The goal of the irrigation district is to restore water to the farmers in the near future. They continue to make progress to accomplish that goal and our hope is that it will happen soon.
As you can see, I’ve been quite busy this summer. Now, where did I leave my fishing pole?
Good News: Because the Legislature is not in session, State senators are not passing new laws to spend more of your money and to raise your taxes! We don’t have a revenue shortfall because we don’t tax you enough; we have a revenue shortfall because the State spends too much. Because most of the State senators do not hold to a fiscally conservative philosophy, our state budget has grown from $2.5 billion to almost $5 billion over the course of the last 17 years. However, there remains a small nucleus of State senators who oppose these kinds of reckless spending habits.
It is time for the folks who pay the taxes to direct the folks who spend the taxes by declaring: “Enough is enough!”
The last time the voters said “No more” to property taxes was back in 1966. Those of you who were around in 1966 may remember what happened. The people spoke up through a petition drive, put a measure on the ballot, and voted at the polls. Before that 1966 vote of the people, the State collected property taxes to fund the entire state. But, on that glorious day at the polls the voters said, “No more State property taxes” with a constitutional amendment.
Back in those days some of the same comments were made about the petition drive that are being made today about the current petition drive. Of course, I am referring to the petition drive for the 35 percent solution. In 1966 the skeptics asked, “How are we going to pay for it?” and, “Where will our funding come from?” and, “What will they have to cut?” These are the same stale arguments that were used back in 1966 to oppose that petition drive, and they are the same stale arguments which threaten to keep our State on the wrong side of history today.
Instead of regurgitating these old, stale, and failed arguments, I have a much better question for these skeptics to answer: “How do you expect Nebraskans to keep paying these outrageous property taxes?” You see, we never ask what ordinary folks have to cut from their budgets in order to pay their taxes. Furthermore, the question should not be, “How are we going to pay for the 35 percent solution?” but “What should we cut from the State budget so that property owners can actually pay their taxes?”
The time has come for us to be concerned about those paying the taxes, instead of focusing our attention on the folks who spend the money. No government has ever given anything to anybody that they didn’t first take from someone else. So here we are 53 years later facing a similar crisis. It is now time for you to exercise your authority to reclaim 35 percent of your property tax bill and force the Legislature to cut spending.
There has been a lot of talk over the years about property tax relief, but that is all that it has ever been: Cheap talk, and no action. We had several bills that came to the floor of the Legislature this year dealing with property tax relief. One of those bills was LB 289, which would have given Nebraska property owners a $500-$600 million break on their property taxes. However, LB 289 would have also raised sales taxes to pay for it. More importantly, LB 289 would have provided property owners with only one-third of the property tax relief they need. So, that bill did not amount to adequate property tax relief.
Nebraska is the fifth highest state in the nation for property taxes, and we are higher than both New York and California! So, if the State Legislature is going pass a bill for property tax relief, it needs to include meaningful and significant property tax relief in the amount of $1.3 billion; otherwise, the taxpayers will only continue to suffer under the burden of high property taxes.
This is why it is vital for you to get involved. It is up to the voters to carry this petition drive to the finish line. If we do not get meaningful and significant property tax relief next year, we will never get it. This is our last chance! If you still think the Legislature will solve this problem, you are sorely mistaken. We have been trying that option for the past 40 years. How has that worked out for you?
Are you a Nebraska college student interested in becoming a page for the Nebraska State Legislature for the 2020 Legislative session? If so, I want to encourage you to apply for an open page position. Details from the Clerk of the Legislature’s office are below.
Description: Legislative pages are selected in the fall each year to work for the upcoming legislative session, beginning the following January. Pages respond to Senator’s request lights on the legislative floor. They run errands, deliver messages, photocopy materials, get food and drink for the Senators, assist the presiding officer, set up and staff committee hearings and perform other duties as assigned.
Requirements: Pages must be high school graduates who are currently enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. They must be able to work 20 hours a week during session. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day. The legislative session will begin January 8, 2020, and go through April 2020. This is a paid position and you may also be able to receive credit hours through your college.
Parking: Parking is limited. There are no reserved parking facilities available. Most street parking around the Capitol is two-hour parking. The city will ticket if you park longer. We suggest that you may want to park on the side streets or carpool with other pages.
To Apply: Applications are available through the Clerk of the Legislature’s office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street, or through your state Senator’s office. A page applicant is also encouraged to contact his or her home district state senator for a letter of recommendation. If you do not know who your senator is, please contact the Clerk of the Legislature’s office for assistance. When you have completed the application, please return it to the Clerk of the Legislature’s office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street, Lincoln NE 68509, or email it to email@example.com.
Deadline: The page application deadline for the 2020 legislative session will be Friday, October 4, 2019, at 5 p.m. The page selection committee will meet shortly after the October 4 deadline to interview and select individuals to fill those positions to start January 8, 2020.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call my office at (402) 471-2616.
On the evening of July 25th I attended a special meeting in North Platte sponsored by the Platte Institute on the subject of property tax relief. The meeting consisted of a panel discussion with three Nebraska State Senators, namely Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, Sen. John Lowe of Kearney, and Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn.
The discussion eventually turned to LB 289, a property tax relief bill introduced last year by Sen. Linehan. Had this bill passed in the Legislature, it would have delivered only one third of the property tax relief needed in our State. I opposed this bill in the Legislature, because I believe it would have ended the discussion on property tax relief altogether. Had this bill passed, I believe Legislators in Lincoln would have never spoke to this issue ever again.
The Nebraska State Legislature simply cannot be trusted to deliver on significant and meaningful property tax relief. This is why I worked with the citizen-led group, TRUE Nebraskans, to form a petition drive to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot. Because the State Legislature will never deliver on the kind of property tax relief Nebraskans actually need, our only recourse is this ballot initiative.
If the petition drive is successful and the measure passes, it will give every property owner the chance to reclaim 35 percent of their property tax bill back in the form of a credit or a refund on their Nebraska State Income Tax Return. Nebraskans don’t need a ten to twelve percent reduction in their property taxes; instead, they need a 35 percent reduction in their property taxes, and that is precisely what the ballot initiative will deliver. If you would like to know more about the petition drive, then please visit www.truenebraskans.com.
On a different subject, I have new information to report concerning the irrigation canal collapse in eastern Wyoming. Last week engineers considered inserting a sleeve into the tunnel consisting of a ten foot diameter pipe. But, after further calculations were made, it was determined that the pipe would not deliver a sufficient amount of water to irrigate farms in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.
The new plan is to reinforce the broken portion of the tunnel with a patch. With this new plan, we hope to restore irrigation waters to the region in three weeks. This is merely a temporary fix to help farmers get through this year’s growing season. A permanent fix will be needed after the growing season ends and when irrigation waters are no longer needed.
Please know that Governor Pete Ricketts, Sen. John Stinner, and I will do everything we can to fund the restoration project. I have been in contact with Congressman, Adrian Smith, and U.S. Senator, Ben Sasse, in order to seek any federal aid available. We are also working closely with Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming and Wyoming State Senator, Cheri Steinmetz, to resolve this problem.
The irrigation tunnel collapse is now getting national attention. After reaching out to the Omaha World Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and the Associated Press, the catastrophe started getting national attention. For instance, last Friday morning I was interviewed by the New York Times concerning this mess. While all of this media attention helps, I believe the real answer lies above us. So, please ask God to send us rain and please pray for those effected directly and indirectly by this catastrophe.
This week I want to bring to your attention a matter of great concern to everyone living in Western Nebraska. In case you haven’t heard, an irrigation tunnel in Eastern Wyoming recently collapsed, which carries water to 104,000 acres of agricultural land.
This canal originates in Eastern Wyoming and irrigates approximately 50,000 acres in that state. As the irrigation waters cross the border into the Panhandle of Nebraska, it waters another 50,000 acres in Scotts Bluff County alone.
The irrigation tunnel that collapsed runs through a large hill in Eastern Wyoming. The collapsing of the tunnel created a sinkhole on the hill that is 100 feet across and 50 feet deep. The top of the tunnel is still more than 100 feet below the bottom of this sinkhole.
Governor Ricketts, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Nebraska Director of Agriculture and me are involved in talks with the management of the irrigation canal to see how we might help the situation. We will assist in any way we can.
We have been in contact with the Governor of Wyoming, State Legislators in Wyoming, and others who may be able to help resolve this problem. The tunnel collapse is a huge economic catastrophe for farmers in Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska. This catastrophe will affect the economies of both states.
Unless irrigation waters can be restored to these regions in a timely manner, crops will die. This could mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural revenues in our state. Even if we were to fix the problem in a couple of weeks, it could still result in significant losses in yields for those crops that are in dire need of irrigation waters during these hot summer days in the middle of July.
This disaster will likely effect more agricultural acres than the flooding that occurred in Easter Nebraska earlier this spring. Some may be tempted to think that this issue is isolated to those farmers living in Scotts Bluff County or Western Nebraska, but its effects will be felt all across the state.
I cannot emphasize enough how serious this disaster is for everyone involved. This could likely force some agricultural producers and families in Western Nebraska, as well as some businesses that deal directly with agriculture, to face the threat of bankruptcy. When crops are threatened, it puts an undue strain on the spouses and children of farming families, as well as others, such as landlords, who are associated with the agricultural industry of our state. Ultimately, all Nebraskans will feel the effects of this disaster because agriculture is the engine that drives our State’s economy.
Just as Nebraskans pulled together during the spring to help with those victims of the floods we also need to ban together to help those affected by this issue as well. So as you ask the question, “How can I help?” The answer is to pray. Pray for those making the decisions about repairing the irrigation canal, and pray for those affected by the lack of irrigation water.
While most farmers have crop insurance, they will likely only recover the cost of what they have already put into the ground. Crop insurance usually doesn’t cover the yield. So, there will be no revenue left to pay property taxes, mortgages, and other living expenses associated with an agricultural operation.
I will keep you informed as we go through the process of resolving this issue. Thank you for caring for our agricultural families and thank you for praying. May God save our crops, and may God bless Western Nebraska.
Last week the Associated Press reported on how certain Nebraska lawmakers plan to pass legislation for a new tax incentive program called the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. The ImagiNE Nebraska Act is one of those pieces of legislation that we don’t hear much about in Western Nebraska mostly because it involves tax incentives for new businesses. But, the only reason we need tax incentives is because taxes are too high.
Currently, there are several tax incentive programs that already exist in our state. Over 20 years ago lawmakers passed LB 775, a tax incentive package which could cost Nebraska taxpayers an estimated $250 million. Then, in 2005 state Senators passed the Nebraska Advantage Act. The Nebraska Advantage Act was designed to keep ConAgra from moving out of our state, but it didn’t work. ConAgra first announced they were moving their headquarters from Omaha to Chicago in October 2015; thus, transferring 1000 jobs to Illinois.
The Nebraska Advantage Act will adversely affect our state’s revenues. In some cases the Nebraska Advantage Act has cost Nebraska tax payers as much as $210,000 in order to create a single job. Today there is an estimated $500 million in tax incentives which have already been earned by businesses but have not yet been collected from the State. The new ImagiNE Nebraska Act would result in an additional $200 million in tax incentives. If the new ImagiNE Nebraska Act becomes law next year, it would eventually raise the total amount of business tax incentives to $1 billion.
I am a member of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. When I asked how we are to account for the nearly $800 million in business tax incentives already earned but not collected from the State, the answer I received seemed quite fuzzy. The answer I received was this: Because the State doesn’t have to write a check for those tax incentives, we do not have to account for them. But, this is fuzzy economics!
Several businesses would have taken advantage of the ImagiNE Nebraska Act had it passed in the Legislature earlier this year. So, now there is an even greater sense of urgency in the Legislature to pass a bill next year. The underlying reason for why Senators view this as such an urgent matter is because the tax incentives already earned by businesses can be used at any time. Once they use them, state revenues will decrease, making it even harder to pass another tax incentive bill. So, State Senators would like to pass a bill before the public becomes aware of the fact that it will result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the State.
Folks in Western Nebraska ought to be especially concerned about these tax incentive programs. We need to pay attention because the system isn’t fair. For instance, similar tax incentive programs do not exist for agriculture. Moreover, the revenue we lose from these tax incentive programs is money which could be used to lower our property taxes! As important as commerce is for generating revenue for the State, agriculture is even more important. Agriculture is the engine which drives our state’s economy.
The way to lower taxes is to cut spending. The State cannot continue to justify their spending habits by saying we are “decreasing the amount of increase.” That is not the way you manage your finances at home, nor is it good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The State does not have a revenue shortfall because it doesn’t tax you enough; the State has a revenue shortfall because they spend too much.
In the same Associated Press article mentioned above, State Senators talked about passing both a bill for tax incentives as well as property tax relief. However, I can assure you today that a much larger group of Senators stand in favor of tax incentives for businesses than those who stand in favor of cutting the budget for property tax relief.
If LB 289 (the Legislature’s bill for property tax relief) had passed this year, it would have given property owners a fraction of the property tax relief they really need. Furthermore, lawmakers would have considered the issue solved and never spoke about it again. Nebraskans need meaningful property tax relief in the amount of $1.3 billion or 35% of their property tax bill, which is what the petition drive calls for. Once the ballot initiative becomes law, it will move Nebraska to number 27 on the list of states with the highest property taxes. Being in the middle of the pack hardly counts as asking for too much. So, the time to act for property tax relief is now. Please remember to sign the petition and to visit www.truenebraskans.com.
When in the course of legislative events it becomes apparent that legislators place undue burdens of taxation upon the people, it becomes incumbent upon the people of a free and democratic society to take matters into their own hands and to assert their own will over the legislative process. When powerful legislators turn a deaf ear to the plight of the landowner, it becomes time for the common people of the state to act. When taxation with unfair representation becomes so burdensome that a man or a woman cannot earn a living for himself or herself, but becomes a slave to the State, a new revolution begins knocking on our door. And, today I am opening that door.
Fortunately for us, such a revolution does not have to involve the taking up of arms or involve the shedding of blood. The forefathers of our great State were very wise men, who foresaw the coming of this fateful day. So, in 1912 they gave us a very valuable tool for revolution. Our forefathers provided the common people of Nebraska with a means for asserting their will over the legislative process, and that tool is called the “ballot initiative.” Through the process of a successful petition drive, the common people of our State possess the power to assert their will over a blind, uncaring and dull Legislature.
For many property owners living in Western Nebraska property taxes have spun out of control and have become a burden too heavy to bare. Some today are even selling their farms and ranches and are moving to other states in order to labor where the burden of taxation is more affordable. But, farms and ranches are the staples of Western Nebraska as well as the engine which drives our State’s economy. Without farms and ranches, Nebraska would turn into a vast wasteland.
When landowners suffer, so does the State’s economy. The voices of the property owners continue to fall on deaf ears inside the State Capitol precisely because the State does not feel the pain of the average property owner. As long as that pain remains unnoticed and unfelt in Lincoln, State Senators will continue to turn a blind eye to the problem of over-taxation.
The State Legislature will never pass any kind of meaningful legislation for property tax relief until they are forced to do so. The language of our ballot initiative is exactly what is needed to force the Legislature to act. The reason our petition drive will force the Legislature to act is because the language of the ballot measure amends the State Constitution. Without a constitutional amendment, the Legislature would have the power to reverse or overrule the will of the people, and that is exactly what they would do if given the chance. However, with a constitutional amendment firmly set in place, State Senators would finally find themselves roped and tied to do the will of the people.
Nebraska is one of only 21 states which allow for a ballot initiative. So, we are fortunate to have this means at our disposal. But, unless we use it to overcome the will of a deadlocked Legislature, we will only get the pain and suffering we deserve. Therefore, today I am asking all Nebraskans to support our petition drive for property tax relief. Our ballot initiative would provide every Nebraska property owner the opportunity to claim a 35 percent credit or refund of their property tax bill on their State Income Tax Return. If you would like to know more about the ballot initiative or how to become part of this revolution for property tax relief, then please visit www.truenebraskans.com.
This week we celebrate our nation’s independence from Great Britain. As Americans we love liberty and despise tyranny. Liberty is so foundational to our American form of government that Thomas Jefferson included it as one of our unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. But, what led Jefferson to declare liberty as a God-given right? With some help from my staff, this is what I discovered.
The Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by the political philosophy of John Locke. In 1689 Locke published his Second Treatise on Government, which outlined his ideas for a more civilized form of government. Human rights and religious liberty were especially important to Locke because he had to escape England due to his own religious beliefs. Locke believed the primary purpose of government was to secure liberty. But, Locke also understood that liberty could not be devoid of morality, so, he wrote about civil government that, “…though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license.” Little did Locke know that his ideas would inspire an American Revolution in less than 100 years.
Revolution had been stirring in the American colonies at least since the days of the Boston Massacre in 1770. In 1773 Samuel Adams led a band of men to raid a British merchant ship, dumping its cargo of tea into the harbor. This led the British to impose the Intolerable Acts on the Colonies and to put a naval blockade on Boston Harbor. By the summer of 1774 most of the colonists had finally had enough of British tyranny. So, in September 1774 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia to conduct the First Continental Congress.
The next year tensions began escalating towards war as Great Britain began amassing military forces in Virginia. So, on March 23, 1775 120 delegates convened in St. John’s Church in Richmond to conduct the Second Virginia Convention. Among the delegates in attendance were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and five other men who would later sign the Declaration of Independence. With “an unearthly fire burning in his eye,” according to one Baptist minister, Patrick Henry took to the podium and began to speak without using notes. Near the end of his speech Henry declared, “The war is actually begun.” And after a few more words Henry ended his speech with the words that would later make him famous, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
On June 11, 1776 the Continental Congress appointed a Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence. Those on the committee were: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Adams and Sherman had earlier declared that the rights of conscience were sacred. But, during the days of the writing of the Declaration of Independence the subject of liberty took center stage again. The debate was whether or not a secular state could uphold liberty apart from God and morality. So, on June 21, 1776 John Adams wrote these words:
“Statesmen…may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
Concluding that liberty was inseparable from God and morality, Thomas Jefferson along with the Committee of Five took the concept of liberty to the next level, carrying it out to its logical conclusion. Liberty, they decided, is a basic human right which comes from God. So, Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
People enter into politics for a variety of different reasons, and those reasons end up defining that Senator’s personal political philosophy. For instance, some come into the Legislature with a single focus, such as to improve education or healthcare. Others come to do the bidding of the lobbyists. Still others come to impose their worldview on society. To the contrary, I believe the primary duty of a State Senator should be to act on the best interest of the people of the State.
For this reason, I have tried to focus my attention on what I believe Nebraskans need most. What I hear from people all across the State of Nebraska is that they need property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform most. For this reason, I have made these two issues my highest priorities as a State Legislator. As a result, this year many with destroyed property from the blizzards and floods will get property tax relief because I was able to successfully pass a bill with a provision for property tax relief for those with destroyed property.
What I like most about being a Nebraska State Senator, though, is actually helping people. Besides writing bills, serving on the Appropriations Committee, and speaking on the floor of the Legislature, being a Nebraska State Senator allows me to serve Nebraskans in some very unique ways. When I am not fretting over the state budget, property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform, I often find myself helping people solve difficult problems and improving their situation in life.
Government often fails people. Because I see how government fails people, I try to resolve those situations where people get left behind or fall through the cracks. Working behind the scenes this year, I have been able to help many of our constituents in Legislative District 47. For instance, I once helped a truck driver obtain a birth certificate from a department that was backlogged due to a reduction in personnel. He needed the birth certificate in order to renew his commercial driver’s license. We were able help him get the birth certificate in time so that he did not lose a single day of driving. I have been able to help many other constituents with similar kinds of problems.
This philosophy of helping people when government fails sometimes takes me across the state. I have even been able to help some who live as far away as Omaha’s inner city. For instance, I recently helped a young, single, kinsman foster mom living in Omaha’s Southside get her foster child back. Child Protective Services had taken her child away because Omaha Public Power District had turned her power off. She couldn’t pay her electric bill because DHHS was sending her check to the wrong person! Once we got that straightened out, she was able to pay her electric bill, get her power restored, and get her foster child back.
So, if government seems to be failing you or is just leaving you in the dust, please know that I want to help. So, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (402) 471-2616. Not every situation can be resolved, but when government is the problem, I will do my best to fix it. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Nebraska.
On June 11 President Trump delivered a speech in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he lifted the ban on E15 gasoline for the summer months. E15 is gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol. The announcement was good news for Nebraska farmers, because Iowa and Nebraska are the top two ethanol producing states in the country. So, the more ethanol we sell, the better it is for Nebraska’s corn growers.
E15 has been the subject of much criticism in recent years. So, today I would like to explain why E15 is a great Nebraska product and why we need it for the future. Whether we want to admit it or not, E15 is here to stay, but there are some very good reasons why we should all like this unique Nebraska product.
The first reason that makes E15 such a great product is that it helps the United States compete in the global oil market. Because of political turmoil in places such as the Middle East and Venezuela, the United States can no longer depend upon these oil producing countries to supply us with the oil we need. As President Trump said in his speech, “More American ethanol production means less dependence on foreign supplies.” The United States needs to become an oil independent nation, and American ethanol plays an important role in helping us reach that goal. Some, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, believe ethanol has the potential to cut our use of gasoline in half.
A second reason why E15 is a great product is because it is harmless to your vehicle. One of the main criticisms of ethanol in the past has been that it is harmful to your engine’s fuel system, but these criticisms have been largely debunked by objective studies. For instance, one such objective study was conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in March 2012. That study found no remarkable degradation in fuel systems in cars with models dating back as far as 1995. As a general rule, though, you should not use E15 in classic cars, cars manufactured prior to 2001, or in small engines, such as your lawn mower.
A third reason that makes E15 such a great product is that the timing is right. E15 is a fuel for America’s future. The EPA has approved E15 for all cars manufactured since 2001, but this year car manufacturers are rolling out new models specifically designed for burning E15. The only holdouts this year are BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Volvo. I believe these foreign car manufacturers will come around soon, especially once they learn that Americans want to buy new cars that are even better designed for burning E15.
Nebraska stands to benefit greatly from this increased demand for E15 and other ethanol products. President Trump also signed an executive order on June 11 to promote agricultural biotechnology. The executive order will direct federal agencies to streamline regulations and to speed up innovation. Consequently, the new E15 rule change along with biotechnology and higher demands for the product will only spur on development and encourage economic growth in our state. So, in the final analysis E15 is very good for Nebraska.
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