Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says over the past dozen years, his department has awarded $50 million in state grants for installing ethanol-compatible equipment at gas stations and it’s time to take the next step.
“We can have a great industry that produces a fantastic product that’s cheaper and better for the environment,” Naig says, “but if a consumer doesn’t the opportunity to pick up the pump handle and pump it into their gas tank, we haven’t completed the supply chain.”
Naig says Governor Reynolds has proposed a “practical” Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard Governor because it requires stations that can to offer E15, but waivers would be available to smaller, older stations that can’t afford new tanks, pumps and fuel lines.
“There are fueling stations out there that don’t have compatible equipment, it’s an older station, it’s a mom and pop shop that there is no earthly reason for them to break up their concrete and replace all their tanks and pumps and hoses to be able to offer these higher blends,”Naig says, “but for those stations that can and that have compatible infrastructure, let’s get on with offering those higher blends.”
Under the plan that’s passed the House, Naig’s agency would be in charge of granting the waivers. Naig says he’s asked the legislature to make it “very clear” which stations would qualify for a waiver and not have to sell E15 or higher blends of ethanol. “I don’t want a lot of gray area out here,” Naig says.
The governor’s ethanol standard for Iowa passed the House earlier this year, but has stalled in the Senate. House members have also voted for a moratorium on another ethanol-related issue. The proposal would delay until next year any developers’ request to seize property along proposed carbon pipeline routes where landowners have not signed off on access. Naig says he can see the benefits of capturing the carbon from Iowa ethanol plants and shipping it to underground storage through pipelines.
“If you can capture the CO2, you can lower the carbon intensity of a gallon of ethanol and what that can do is, we hope, preserve the longevity and the ethanol and biodiesel and renewable energy in our energy portfolio as a country and that is good news, that is a positive thing that can happen,” Naig says. “On the flip side, there is the issue of building a pipeline and those can be very difficult decisions for a landowner. Imagine a pipeline coming across a century farm.”
Three companies have announced plans to build carbon pipelines through Iowa. Naig says he’d “much rather” see the companies strike voluntary deals with landowners and the Iowa Utilities Board should be careful in considering private property rights before granting eminent domain for land seizures.
“What I have encouraged each of the pipeline companies to do is negotiate in good faith, compensate landowners fairly, answer their questions, satisfy their concerns,” Naig says. “…If these projects are going to go, they should go because the landowners are willing to participate.”
Naig made his comments during a weekend appearance on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.