The governor’s revised plan to boost sales of E15 has been approved by a House subcommittee and is scheduled for debate in the House Ways and Means Committee late this afternoon.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard Governor Kim Reynolds presented last year stalled in the legislature. Reynolds said her new proposal is designed to expand consumer access to gasoline that contains more ethanol and to diesel that has a higher percentage of a soybean-based additive.
“Under the bill, any newly-installed or upgraded fuel infrastructure must be E85 or B20 compatible and all retailers with compatible infrastructure must offer E15 by 2026,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds reviewed her new plan at Tuesday’s Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Des Moines and urged the industry to lobby Iowa lawmakers. “Let’s together remind them how important it is that we finally send a message that DC can’t ignore,” Reynolds said. “America’s energy is growing right here in Iowa’s fields.”
The plan includes grant money to install new fuel systems. Sara Allen, a lobbyist for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, spoke at a statehouse hearing on the bill. “We think it gives consumers the ability to purchase E15 more freely across the state,” she said, “because that’s not happening right now.”
The bill sets up a waiver process for stations with equipment that’s incompatible with fuel that has higher blends of ethanol. Casey’s General Stores, which has 535 stores in Iowa, opposes the bill as it’s currently written. Tom Cope, the company’s lobbyist, said there’s no guarantee a station would get a waiver and the grants cover a fraction of what it costs to upgrade underground fuel systems.
“We’re really, really concerned that it could have a negative impact on stores that are, especially, located in small town Iowa,” Cope said.
Marc Beltrame, a lobbyist for Fuel Iowa – which represents the retailers that sell fuel, said the industry is willing to do its part to help ethanol and biodiesel producers, but the bill as written penalizes a lot of small stores which are primarily in rural Iowa.
“We’ve worked very hard to come to yes,” Beltrame said. “There’s still some sticky points.”
Fewer than one out of four Iowa gas stations sell E15 and the bill seeks to move beyond that blend. Starting in 2023, any new fuel systems installed at Iowa gas stations would have to be compatible with E85
Kevin Kuhl, a lobbyist for the Iowa Farm Bureau, said the group supports the bill because Iowa lags other states in sales of ethanol and biodiesel.
“We’ve got states have implemented policies that promote the sale and consumption of biofuels,” Kuhle said.
Drew Klein is state director for Americans for Prosperity, a group that opposed the governor’s Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard in 2021. He made clear during testimony at the House subcommittee hearing that his group opposes this 2022 rewrite.
“This is, inevitably, going to impose new costs on small businesses in Iowa,” Klein said.
The bill was introduced in the House Monday and a three-member subcommittee signed off on it Tuesday. The bill is now scheduled for debate in the full House Ways and Means Committee at its 4 p.m. meeting.