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Iowa legislation aims to push state toward E15

steam rises from Lincolnway Energy near Nevada, Iowa

A plume of steam rises from Lincolnway Energy near Nevada, Iowa.

DES MOINES — Iowa lawmakers have been debating a bill this session that could lead to more gas stations in the state selling E15 blends of fuel.

The idea was proposed last year, according to Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. But that 2021 proposal drew opposition from lawmakers who saw it as an E15 mandate and a potential threat to small rural gas stations.

With that in mind, proponents went back to the drawing board, Shaw says. They talked to those opposing last year’s bill. And the proposal now being discussed, House File 2128, is different.

“We have work to do, but we like where we’re at,” Shaw says. “I really give credit to the governor for wanting to get something done. … This is a different approach. It’s about giving customers choices.”

As written at the moment, the bill would require existing retailers with compatible infrastructure to offer E15 by 2026 from at least one dispenser. Included in that would be some sites that would only need minor equipment upgrades and that could get funding for those upgrades from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program. After Jan. 1, 2023, newly opened fuel stations that install new tanks would offer E15 from at least 50% of dispensers.

Sites with old equipment that is not easily upgraded would get an exemption.

The bill would allow fuel retailers to get grants to upgrade their stations to E15 compatibility. It would make some changes to the biodiesel tax credit to boost access to B20 blends. That would include a sunset of the B5 retailer tax credit at the end of 2023, an extension of the B11 tax credit through 2027, and new credits for B20 and B30 blends.

The key, Shaw says, is the new bill would not push any fuel stations out of business.

“There will be a lot of waivers,” he says. “Nobody wants to put a small fuel station in trouble.”

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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