Last year the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association introduced a bill in the Iowa Legislature which would have required that all gasoline sold in Iowa contain ethanol. That bill didn't even make it to debate.
A similar bill mandating the use of biodiesel fuel in Iowa passed the House but failed in the Senate in 2008. A diverse group, including petroleum marketers and truckers, opposed the biodiesel mandate bill.
IRFA won't ask the Legislature for an ethanol mandate bill in 2011, says Monte Shaw, executive director of IRFA. "We still support the concept of the mandate and if somebody introduces it, we would probably back the bill," he says, "but we aren't going ahead ourselves to introduce such a bill."
Iowa leading producer but lags far behind as user
Shaw and the association last year expressed frustration with the fact that Iowa ranked 32nd among all states in the use of ethanol by drivers. Despite the fact that Iowa is the nation's leading producer of ethanol, accounting for almost one-third of the 13 billion gallons of ethanol produced annually in the United States, Iowa is lagging as a user of the product.
"Iowa as the nation's No. 1 producer of ethanol should set a good example and be a leader in using the product," says Shaw. That's one of the main reasons IRFA introduced the legislation last year calling for a mandate.
Most gasoline retail stations in Iowa offer motorists the option of buying regular unleaded gasoline that doesn't contain any ethanol. Between 75% and 80% of all gasoline sold in Iowa contains some ethanol. Shaw says the approximately 100 million gallons of ethanol sold in Iowa this year would be increased to about 140 million gallons with a state mandate.
EPA to make next decision on E15 use in early 2011
Across the nation, 12 states now have biofuel mandates. And the federal government mandates a certain percentage of biofuels be used in the estimated 130 billion gallons of gasoline sold in the U.S. each year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently expanded the blending limit for ethanol from 10% ethanol in unleaded gasoline (E10) to 15% ethanol (E15), but only for 2007 and newer models. EPA is expected to decide early in 2011 whether to allow E15 to be used in older vehicles -- back to model year 2001. EPA had originally said it would make the decision on a waiver to allow E15 in model year 2001 and newer vehicles in December. But the agency has now indicated that it will need an additional month of testing, delaying the announcement until at least sometime in January. By including the vehicles from model year 2001 and newer, EPA would significantly expand the potential number of vehicles that could run on the higher ethanol blend.
Tom Buis, chief executive officer of Growth Energy, the ethanol industry trade group that petitioned EPA for the waiver request, says, "EPA's delay clearly demonstrates just how committed EPA is to the integrity of the testing; they are doing this right. We are confident that ultimately all the tests will show what we've said all along: E15 is a great fuel for American motorists."