All but one of the 25 Republicans in the state Senate are pushing a plan that would establish a 10-cent-per-gallon state tax break for E-85 — the highest-available blend of ethanol. Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheydan, says it should make the fuel more attractive to consumers. E-85 gets fewer miles to the gallon than other fuels, and Johnson says reducing the per-gallon price makes E-85 more attractive to consumers.
Under the G-O-P plan, gas stations also could get up to 25-thousand dollar state grants to install or convert tanks for dispensing E-85. “We are a leader in (ethanol) production. Now we need to be a leader in the marketplace,” Johnson says. But Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle and some Democrats in the legislature have suggested a mandate that all gasoline sold in Iowa must be at least 10 percent ethanol — the most widely-available blend.
Without mentioning Nussle by name, Republican legislators like Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny criticized Nussle’s idea as a “feel good” proposal that wouldn’t accomplish much. “We truly believe E-10 is the past and we want to get aggressive and move into the future,” Lamberti says. “We don’t want something meek or timid…We want to promote this industry.” If every car in Iowa was running on E-10, that means just 10 percent of the fuel sold in the state was ethanol.
To sell more ethanol, consumers must be able to buy E-85 according to Senator Johnson. He says in Polk County alone — where there are 12-thousand flexible fuel vehicles — ethanol use would jump to five million gallons just in the Des Moines metro if all those vehicles were using E-85. However, today, there’s just one E-85 pump in Polk County — in Ankeny.