On February 2nd the Iowa House passed our first bill of the legislative session, House File 2128, which is Governor Reynolds’ Biofuel Access bill. This piece of legislation supports Iowa’s renewable fuel industry and provides Iowan’s more choice when they fill up their vehicles at local gas stations. Supporting Iowa’s renewable fuel industry is a top priority this session for House Republicans and also Governor Reynolds, which she addressed specifically in her condition of the state address at the beginning of session, stating:
“Everyone knows that renewable fuel is important to Iowa. But D.C. is losing sight of its importance to the country. Time and again—in administrations of both parties—the federal government has walked away from its commitment to renewable fuels, and we’ve had to bring them back. I am introducing new legislation that will improve access to E15 and B20 and upgrade Iowa’s fuel infrastructure to offer higher blends.”
The bill we passed off the floor was over a year in the making. The Governor has been working with state legislators and industry leaders to formulate a plan to increase access to higher-ethanol blends at the pump. After much dialogue with many interested parties, in-depth negotiations, and a great deal of compromise, HF 2128 passed with wide bi-partisan support on a vote of 82-10 .
This legislation increases Iowan’s access to E-15 fuel by ensuring all gas stations who are compatible offer this blend as an option to consumers. However, if a station is not compatible, and upgrading their infrastructure would come at a great cost to the business, they can apply for a waiver to be exempt from this requirement. The exemption provision was a big change made to the bill after hearing from small town gas stations and fuel marketers from all across the state. Their concern being that having an E-15 option would be too costly for them to accommodate without having to make major infrastructure upgrades.
As with any piece of legislation there are still concerns about unintended consequences. This is why the decision was made to increase funding for the grant process to help those retailers who do not currently have the infrastructure needed to support higher blends of ethanol. This grant program will help retailers make upgrades and improvements in the years to come if they choose to offer those higher blends. We will continue to monitor the progress of this grant program and make adjustments as necessary in the future.
Myself and my colleagues heard from many of our rural gas stations this week before considering this bill on the floor. Small town convenience stores are a critical pillar of support to rural communities across the state. They often act as a grocery store, a restaurant, a coffee shop, and a general store all in one. Rural Iowa would not be what it is without the support these businesses provide to their local communities. House Republicans recognize this and worked diligently to craft this legislation in a way that would allow such businesses to continue to thrive.
HF 2128 now moves to the Senate where it will need to move through the full committee process before it can be considered by the full Senate. House Republicans will continue to work with our Senate colleagues in the hope that this legislation supporting Iowa’s renewable fuel industry can make it to Governor Reynold’s desk for her signature as soon as possible.
On a lighter note, my staff and I were in disagreement on titles for this newsletter. Here are a few that were worthy contenders but didn’t make the cut:
- Iowa House Fuels Ag Economy
- E-15??? Yes Please!
- Iowa House Passes Gas
And in addition, my administrative assistant requested I include the following joke. If a car uses wheat-based ethanol, does it qualify as a hy-bread vehicle?