IARN — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds continues to advocate for her proposal that would increase the availability of biofuels at pumps across the state as this year’s legislative session winds down.
A senate subcommittee hearing was held Thursday on the bill, which would require fuel stations and convenience stores in Iowa to offer fuel with a 15% ethanol blend by 2026 and diesel with at least 11% biodiesel by 2022. Reynolds acknowledged this week that time is running out for the legislation to make its way through the State Legislature. Her back up plan if the bill dies this session is to meet with stakeholders on both sides of the issue later this year.
The legislation has been opposed by gas station and convenience store reps., while it’s been supported by biofuels producers, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and other groups such as Growth Energy and the Iowa Ethanol Producers Association.
Jim Leiting – CEO of Big River Resources – backs the proposal and is calling on constituents to reach out to their local state representatives and senators to lobby on the bill’s behalf.
“There’s been some controversy on this bill,” Leiting said. “The reality of it is this is not forcing anything. If there is a station that has a concern, an issue or a cost status, there are waivers involved within the bill that will keep from being a problem economically for a small station. But those stations that have the capability – 95 percent of the stations have tanks and pumps that have been put in the last 30 years so they are compatible – have the ability to source E15. It’s readily available at the terminals now.”
House Speaker Pat Grassley told reporters on Thursday any deal made would “be a difficult push.” During Thursday’s subcommittee hearing, the bill received criticism and pushback from companies such as McDermott Oil Company in Cascade, Kum & Go Stores and Casey’s General Stores. Supporters at the hearing included Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and POET, which operates seven ethanol plants in the state.
Leiting says Iowa is the number one state in ethanol production with an economy based on agriculture. He added this legislation would break down barriers to allow for higher blends at the pump and let the consumer have more choices.
“There’s really no reason not to move forward with this bill,” said Leiting. “It’s all about giving consumer access, cleaner air, cleaner fuel and lower cost for the consumer.”
The Iowa Corn Growers Association says expanding E15 across the state will grow corn markets by 23 million bushels, inject $140 million into the state’s economy, and save Iowa motorists an additional $72 million each year.
Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network