Green Plains CEO discusses the future of ethanol in Nebraska - KHAS TV

By Lauren Conley

The CEO of one of Nebraska's largest ethanol producers says public opinion in the state is dragging the industry down.

Todd Becker with Green Plains Renewable Energy spoke at the Governor's Ag conference in Kearney Thursday.

Becker says there's a huge demand for ethanol overseas, and he'd like to see more done to create and keep energy here at home.

"It's almost disgraceful I tell people. We have boats of ethanol leaving the United States as boats of Saudi Arabian oil are entering the United States." Said Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer in the country.

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board we have 24 active ethanol production plants in the state, and directly employ 1,200 Nebraskans.

Becker says ethanol is a crucial part of the state's ag industry.

"We have to show people the value it creates in our state, that it creates on our farms, that it creates for Nebraska agriculture, for Nebraska taxpayers." said Becker.

Because right now, Nebraska ranks 48th out of all 50 states in ethanol use.

"We are losing the battle of public opinion." Said Becker.

Ethanol production has Governor Dave Heineman's vote of confidence behind it.

"We're shipping distiller grains to China, Nebraska distiller grains to China. I hope that shows you how important these industries are." Said Governor Dave Heineman.

Becker believes he can convince the rest of consumers, because while ethanol is 20% lower in energy than gasoline, it's also an average of 75 cents cheaper.

"You get to make the choice as a consumer. If there's value there and ethanol's cheaper than 20% buy it, if it's not, make your choice." Said Becker.

And as expanded blends are popping up at more gas stations around the state, more options will become available.

"You make the choice as a consumer. We're not pushing it on you." Said Becker. "You drive up to the pump and say what's economically best for us."

It's not just Nebraskan's holding the industry back.

The EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard was lowered this year, but Becker says with gas demand back on the rise, he thinks the EPA will re-think their decision.


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