This legislative session one specific bill has been receiving a great amount of attention. This is House File 2128, the governor’s Biofuel Access Bill. This bill is the direct result of notable compromise from everyone along the fuel supply chain, ranging from farmers to fuel retailers. Iowa is a national leader in agriculture and renewable fuel products. To remain a strong leader, it is absolutely essential to send a strong message against the constant uncertainty that we have faced from the federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Biofuel Access Bill embraces a market-based approach to greatly increase consumer access to E15, B20 and higher blends. It also increases the tax credits for fuel retailers, updates the renewable fuel infrastructure program, and ensures E15 stations that are compatible to offer it so no fuel retailer would have to break concrete. This bill ensures that there is a reasonable exemption process so no retailer or gas station will endure any financial burdens.
Over 55 percent of the corn grown in our wonderful state is processed for the first time in Iowa’s ethanol plants. If Iowa were to lose the liquid fuel market, it would absolutely devastate our economy, farmers, and fuel retailers. The Biofuel Access Bill gives our state the opportunity to continue to be a national leader and thrive for years to come. It is the next step in ensuring we put our farmers first, boost our economy, and support our fuel retailers.
There has been a lot of misinformation about this bill and would like for you to know what I have sorted out. I have outlined some common misconceptions and the truth below so this bill can be better understood.
Q: This bill will force me to break concrete/put me out of business.
- Compared to last year’s bill, which didn’t have any exemptions, this bill contains multiple exemptions to prevent hardship on any retailer, including:
- If a retailer’s newest tank is older than 1985
- If a retailer’s newest single-wall fiberglass tank is older than 1996
- If a retailer’s newest double-wall fiberglass tank is older than 1991
- If a retailer can’t obtain sufficient E15
- Truckstops, marinas, and airports are all exempt
- Statewide/regionally if there is inadequate E15, market price of E15 will cause economic hardship, or infrastructure is not compatible
- The total cost to improve a retail site to be able to dispense E15 from only 1 dispenser is above $71,428 (of which the state will pay $50,000).
- These exemptions were added to this year’s bill at the request of fuel retailers. The threshold is intentionally low (only 1 dispenser being able to offer E15) to further accommodate smaller fuel retailers. If the threshold were more than 1 dispenser, the cost to a retailer would be higher, and fewer retailers would be able to get an exemption. The House amended the bill to create additional certainty that fuel retailers shall receive an exemption if any of these criteria are met.
Q: The EPA doesn’t allow the sale of E15 year-round anymore.
- Yes, they do. The only difference now is retailers have to put a sticker on E15 dispensers.
- Gov. Reynolds has been very vocal about her disappointment in the 2021 DC Circuit Court ruling overturning the 2019 EPA Rule, which allowed retailers to sell E15 without having to put a sticker on their dispensers. Since that 2019 Rule, consumers have gotten used to being able to use E15 and there have been no issues.
- This is a federal issue, and isn’t able to be specifically addressed by state-level legislation. However, we wrote into the bill that the Governor can waive the E15 standard under various circumstances, including as a result of this issue.
- Governor Reynolds is also working to address this issue outside of this bill with 6 other Midwest governors, by exercising her authority under the federal Clean Air Act.
The E15 Standard doesn’t go into effect until 2026, and it is highly likely this issue will be resolved by then.
This has been a busy week in the Iowa Senate. From holding numerous subcommittee meetings to meeting with students from my district, I have been on the go all week. As I reflect on this week, it is a blessing to be a part of so many transformational ideas and policies that the Iowa Legislature has brought forth. I look forward to continuing this process and the coming weeks in the Iowa Senate.