Ag Secretary Bill Northey with Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds.

Ag Secretary Bill Northey with Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds.

The State of Iowa will use a $250,000 federal grant to bolster a program that pays gas stations to install “blender” pumps that incorporate a higher percentage of corn-based ethanol in motor fuels. Most Iowa stations offer a 10 percent ethanol blend. Governor Terry Branstad says the goal is to boost usage of a 30 percent blend.

“It’s my understanding that 30 percent is kind of the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of the best fuel efficiency with an ethanol blend,” Branstad says.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says the expanded sale of E-30 will help Iowa maintain its leadership position in the ethanol industry.

“Not only on the production side, but on the consumption side,” Northey says.

E-30 is not approved for use in all vehicles, just the 10 percent of U.S. vehicles that are “flexible fuel” models. Some of the federal grant money will be used for blender pumps the dispense “bio-diesel” which features a soybean-based fuel additive.  Gas station operators and farm co-ops that sell fuel will be able to apply for the grants for blender pumps this spring. Representatives of Iowa’s petroleum and renewable fuels industries attended Governor Branstad’s news conference this morning for the “fueling our future” program announcement. (Find the audio here.)

“Unlike Washington, D.C. where they’re always fighting and you have this big clash going on between ‘Big Oil’ and renewable energy, we actually have petroleum marketers and the renewable energy association cooperating here in Iowa, working together,” Branstad says. “And obviously that’s very beneficial to our economy, to our farmers and also to our environment.”

There are 41 ethanol plants in Iowa and 25 percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S. comes from Iowa. About 17 percent of the country’s biodiesel comes from the dozen biodiesel plants here.