The Iowa legislature has approved a bill that is estimated to require that the majority of Iowa gas stations sell gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend. Governor Kim Reynolds was speaking with reporters in West Des Moines when she learned the bill had passed the Senate this morning on a 42-3 vote.
“That’s great bipartisan support,” Reynolds said. “…It’s about compromise. It’s about finding language that people are comfortable with and getting it across the finish line.”
The governor initially proposed an Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard last year. An adjusted plan passed passed the House this February. This week, Senators made changes that are expected to let an estimated 30% of smaller gas stations opt out of the requirement to sell E15.
Senator Waylon Brown, a Republican from Osage, said it’s a way to push back against the oil industry and federal regulators who’ve resisted using ethanol as a gasoline additive.
“This does tell the state, it tells the nation, it tells our region that E15 is important in Iowa and we are going to be the leader in the E15 market,” Brown said, “in production and in selling it.”
Republican Senator Dennis Guth, a farmer from Klemme, says the mandate violates the principles of free enterprise. “I do support E15 in every way that I can,” Guth said, “but I don’t think it’s the government’s job to use their big club to make things happen.”
Senator Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said the bill will be an economist boost for rural and urban Iowa.
“It’ll help with clean air and clean energy,” Taylor says, “and renewables for the future are what we need for growing our economy, creating jobs and sustainable jobs,” Taylor said.
Republican Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood, who has owned fuel stores, voted for the bill, but Dickey said retailers who install new systems to pump higher blends of ethanol will make “zero” profits from that investment.
“I think when we get done with this bill we should pass another bill that’s a ‘Green Tractor Mandate,'” Dickey said. “…We should mandate that every farmer uses a green tractor, a green planter, a green combine to put their crop in and take their crop out and the first response would be: ‘Well, I’m not going to make any more money doing that. I’m not going to have any more yield doing that.’ Well, exactly. It’s the same scenario, but ‘Green Tractors’ are good for Iowa. We make ’em and we sell ’em in Iowa.”
The House approved Senate adjustments in the plan early this afternoon and sent the bill to the governor on an 81-13 vote.