Iowa gas stations would only be allowed to sell ethanol-blended fuel if a bill approved by a Senate committee becomes law. The ethanol mandate would kick in next January with a few exceptions for boats, race cars, snowmobiles, and lawn mowers. Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, has been pushing the legislation for years.
“It’s worked in Minnesota now for seven or eight years,” Kibbie says. “There’s five other states that (have) some kind of requirement on ethanol, so to me it’s just a step forward.” Kibbie predicts Iowa drivers would use an additional 30 million gallons of the corn-based fuel if such a mandate is adopted. But Kibbie admits there’s resistance to a such a mandate.
“You know, everybody likes it, but ‘Damn you, government! Don’t tell me I got to use it,'” Kibbie says. “This is wonderful product. It’s a proven product and we all ought to be proud of it.” Senator Jerry Behn, a Republican from Boone, says he supports the industry, but doesn’t think the legislature should tell consumers what to buy.
“Why don’t we mandate Maytag products, so we could keep Maytag here? Or up at Webster City, they had that — what was it Electrolux? Are we going to mandate Iowans can only buy Electrolux products?” Behn asks. “I mean, I just don’t think this is a good thing for government to get involved in.” Behn was one of only two committee members to vote against the bill.
“I’m a farmer. I’ll probably gain financially as much or more than anybody in that room by a mandate on ethanol,” Behn says. “But I just don’t think that’s our position. We’ve got roughly 80% of the market right now.” Behn says the state should continue to provide retailers tax credits to lower the price of ethanol. The bill advancing in the senate would repeal the tax credits for fuel with a 10% blend of ethanol once the mandate is in place. The legislation now goes to the full Senate for further debate.