Hey Nebraskans, 1 in 10 of you drives a flex-fuel vehicle

Nebraska is the nation’s third-leading corn producer (behind Iowa and Illinois), and it’s also fertile ground for the ethanol industry.

As the state Department of Agriculture notes, Nebraska has 25 operating ethanol plants that produce more than 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol a year. These operations employ about 3,000 people.

So it’s no surprise that Nebraskans are ahead of much of the nation when it comes to adopting ethanol as a transportation fuel. There are 67 stations in the state where E85 (a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol and the rest traditional gasoline) is available, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

About 10 percent of Nebraskans drive a vehicle that is branded flex-fuel, with the tell-tale badge on the rear or a yellow gas cap, meaning it can run any ethanol concentration (including E85) or gasoline or any blend of the two. The benefits of running E85 in a flex-fuel vehicle are numerous: It’s often cheaper than regular gas, even when you account for the roughly 30 percent reduction in fuel economy compared with gas; ethanol produces less toxic pollutants that harm health, and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions that harm the environment. The vehicle’s engine also has more power and better performance on ethanol.

In a story in the Grand Island Independent by Robert Pore this week, Gov. Dave Heineman encouraged Nebraskans who own flex-fuel vehicles to support the state’s ethanol industry, and take advantage of a renewable resource grown locally, by filling up with E85. “E85 continues to gain popularity across our state and country – allowing us to continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Heineman said.

Nebraskans will have the opportunity to learn more about ethanol and other replacement fuels during a free screening of the Fuel Freedom Foundation-produced documentary “PUMP” on Nov. 12 on the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, 313 N. 13th Street. As this calendar notice on the Lincoln Journal Star website notes, the screening will be hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the Urban Air Initiative and the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers. After the film, Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, will lead a brief panel discussion and take questions from the audience.

“PUMP” is playing in theaters in several other cities, including Anchorage and Tucson. Visit PUMPTheMovie.com for more information.

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