"We sometimes, today, hear people talk about food and fuel and whether food is being used as a tool or a weapon or something. Again, historical context is important here. The United States, from time to time in the past, has used food as a weapon, has used food to leverage public policy, has used food to shape international policies and all. Some might recall the years of corn exports or grain exports as being good years. But, I think, others might more accurately recall that there was a lot of turmoil. Sometimes it caused a massive backup of those commodities into the U.S. market and a huge decline in their value. So, we've seen that kind of instability. And I think that's just one of the many reasons that many have embraced a policy that creates domestic demand for those commodities so that we're not having to rely on those sorts of uncertain international alliances. In that period of the 70s and 80s, compared to now, many of the countries with which the U.S. did business are called by different names today. So, it's international turmoil, literally, on a global level. It's not just a country or two. Clearly, it's now regions and the world as a whole.
"So, to the extent the American farmer, the Nebraska farmer, would still be relying on the stability of world markets as their primary outlet for grain, I think we would continue to see very difficult times for agriculture. I'm convinced that the ethanol industry has helped to stabilize that industry. It certainly is not the answer. But it certainly has been an important part of why we see a little more stable period in agriculture today vs. the 70s and 80s
"Dr. William Scheller who was the chemical engineering professor who coined the term gasohol in 1971 spearheaded the 2.2 million mile on-road test of 10 percent ethanol blends from about 1972 through '76. He authored a series of reports over that period of time. He took into account altitude changes that ranged from our eastern part of the state to more than a mile-high altitude, to determine the effects in high-altitude areas. The fuel was used around the year. It was used in on-road applications. It was compared to gasoline, at the time. What was discovered at that point was that ethanol had a significant opportunity to reduce carbon monoxide emissions out of the tailpipe of automobiles. It was also an excellent replacement for lead which we understood at the time was a toxic additive being used in gasoline. We also understood that because of its very high octane rating, it could improve the combustion of that fuel and improve the emissions of the fuel, as well. So for a whole host of technical reasons, ethanol was viewed as a good motor fuel. Scheller and others went on to file a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency in 1978. By 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency had ruled that the 10 percent ethanol blend was "substantially similar" to gasoline. That passed the test that allowed it to be entered into the commercial marketplace.
"In 1979, the federal government first enacted an incentive to encourage people to use it by lowering the tax rate on 10 percent ethanol blends so it would be competitive with unleaded gasoline. So, that really gave rise to the commercial use of ethanol at the time. And in large part, automakers embraced the fuel because they saw it putting less pressure on them from an emissions perspective. It quickly reduced the carbon monoxide levels in many of our most polluted cities. And it had a number of other benefits in terms of reducing some of the precursors to ozone that come from the tailpipe of automobiles as well."