Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production and for the industry to continue expanding, experts say a better delivery system is needed. Iowa Democrats Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Leonard Boswell are co-sponsoring a bill in Congress that would spend two-million dollars to study the use of pipelines for transporting the corn-based fuel. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, says he’d be on-board.
Grassley says: "It would be a way of moving it very efficiently from one point of production to end usage and I would support studies in that area." The proposed study would weigh the feasibility of using new or existing pipelines to move ethanol from plants in Iowa and elsewhere to parts of the country where demand for the fuel is high.
Grassley says from what he’s learned, existing pipelines would not be a viable option. Grassley says, "The reason why a separate pipeline is necessary is that ethanol has some moisture in it, not compatible with use in petroleum pipelines or natural gas pipelines."
Ethanol is moved mostly by rail now, while pipelines are used for the bulk of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Iowa ethanol plants produced about one-quarter of the nation’s ethanol in 2006. The state has 25 plants in operation with at least 21 expanding or under construction.