$405 Million Awarded to Nebraska for Broadband, Pillen Announces Broadband Director
Governor Jim Pillen announced his appointment of Patrick Haggerty as the state’s first broadband director. Haggerty will lead the Nebraska Broadband Office that was established by LB 683, a Nebraska Farm Bureau supported legislative bill, and will coordinate broadband deployment across the state.
Haggerty brings almost three decades of experience to this role, having served in a variety of positions with Qwest Communications, CenturyLink, and Charter Communications. He most recently served as the regional senior director for State Government Affairs over Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. Haggerty will assume his new duties July 17.
“Patrick’s many years of executive level experience in the telecommunications and government relations fields uniquely positions him to lead our efforts to bring reliable and affordable high-speed internet to all Nebraskans,” said Gov. Jim Pillen.
The Nebraska Broadband Office will oversee the roughly $405 million awarded to Nebraska through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The office, supported by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (DOT), is currently collecting public input for the five-year action plan that will inform Nebraska’s proposal for the execution of BEAD funds.
In reaction to the announcement of the awarded funding, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said that access to broadband in rural America and more specifically rural Nebraska is no longer a luxury but a true necessity. As technology continues to advance on farms and ranches, the need for broadband has never been greater.
“The announcement of $405 Million in federal funding to help close coverage gaps around the state was only made possible because of the votes of support by Senator Deb Fischer and Congressman Don Bacon for the infrastructure package passed back in 2021. Their votes of support for this once-in-a-generation funding package will help ensure rural communities, rural Nebraskans, farmers, and ranchers aren’t left technologically behind. We look forward to working to ensure underserved areas receive these necessary resources,” said McHargue.
Gov. Pillen and Haggerty, as well as K.C. Belitz from the Department of Economic Development (DED), and Vicki Kramer of DOT, conducted a fly around the state on July 6 to outline Gov. Pillen’s approach for connecting Nebraska.
The Broadband Office, along with DOT, the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC) and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) continue to host public meetings across Nebraska, to provide and seek input about the quality and availability of internet access. A couple of upcoming meetings remain.
Public Meetings on Broadband Expansion
- Lincoln – July 11, 5:30 PM; NDOT Auditorium, 1500 Nebraska Pkwy
- Omaha – July 12, 5:30 PM; NDOT State Operations Ctr., 4425 S 108th St
Meetings are open to the public and will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about broadband programs and buildout and provide input into digital access, affordability, and need for technical skills resources to create equitable distribution of resources. For those who are unable to attend and want to learn more about high-speed internet access in Nebraska, visit https://broadband.nebraska.gov/Home to review information and provide feedback.
NEFB Submits Comments to EPA on Tailpipe Emissions Rule
This week, Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on their proposed Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles rule. In those comments, NEFB President Mark McHargue expressed concern over the proposal’s “clear attempt to push additional electric vehicles onto our nation’s roads, while at the same time increasing regulations on liquid fuel vehicles.” The proposal was the latest attempt by the Biden administration to increase regulations on traditional fossil and biofuel powered vehicles. McHargue continued by saying, “without a doubt, renewable fuels and the renewable fuels industry have been a tremendous success story for the country and the rural economy. Nebraska’s ethanol industry alone contributes over $4.5 billion per year to Nebraska’s economy according to a study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Rather than selecting winners and losers, EPA should pursue an “all-of-the-above”, technology-neutral approach and ensure a place for both electric and liquid fuel, including biofuel, powered vehicles.” NEFB previously issued an action alert for NEFB members to also submit comments. EPA took comments from the public on the proposal until July 5. Nebraska Farm Bureau thanks the 196 members who took action and submitted comments through our Action Alert.
Renewable Fuel Standard Final Rule – 2023, 2024, 2025: Increases Short of Expectations
In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed multiyear rule on Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements for the liquid fuel industry. On June 21, they issued a final version of that rule that establishes Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) targets and percentage standards for 2023 to 2025 and modifies the RFS program. This Market Intel provides an analysis of the changes to the RFS standards and their potential impacts on farmers.