A bill designed to increase the availability and sales of gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend has cleared the Iowa House.
Governor Kim Reynolds proposed an Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard a year ago, but it stalled. House Speaker Pat Grassley spoke with reporters right after the revamped bill passed on an 82-10 vote this afternoon.
“It’s very important for us here in Iowa to show the support for the renewable fuels industry and I think the House has done that today with a very strong, bipartisan vote,” Grassley said. “…We would love to see this get to the governor’s desk to send a very strong message to the federal government.”
Uncertainty about the federal Renewable Fuels Standard spurred development of this state plan. Republican Representative Lee Hein of Monticello said much of Iowa’s corn crop is destined for ethanol.
“Moving biofuels forward and standing up to let the rest of the country that this is a good product and a good thing is huge for the Iowa ag economy,” Hein said.
If the bill becomes law, stations installing new underground storage tanks after January 1, 2023, would be required to sell E15. The requirement to sell E15 would go into effect for all stations in 2026. The bill does include mandatory waivers for small gas station owners who show they cannot afford the equipment upgrades required for higher ethanol blends. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, said the waivers are key.
“It does both expand the ethanol market here in Iowa,” Wolfe said, “but it also does protect small town, smaller fuel retailers.”
This was the first bill to be debated in the full House this year and House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst emphasized that it passed by a wide, bipartisan margin.
“This is an issue that’s too important to us to let politics get in the way,” Konfrst said.
The bill also calls for tank upgrades to spur sales of B20 — biodiesel with a higher percentage of a soybean-based additive. Marinas with just one fuel tank are exempt from the proposed requirements.
The bill now goes to the Senate.