Iowa delegation looks to biofuels to replace Russian oil

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | March 11, 2022

As gas prices increase because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Iowa’s two U.S. senators are promoting biofuels to replace imported Russian oil.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst both agree with President Joe Biden’s ban on imports of Russian oil and natural gas, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. The two joined a bipartisan group of Midwestern senators who support the Home Front Independence Act. The legislation looks to increase ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. The bill focuses on making E15, a fuel that contains 15 percent ethanol instead of the traditional 10 percent, more accessible and widely available.

Russian oil amounts for three percent of the U.S.’s imported oil. Ernst said she believes ethanol production from Midwestern states is sufficient to make up the single-digit percent the country is losing from Russia. Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Monte Shaw agreed with Ernst, saying there is sufficient ethanol production currently.

“Today, there’s anywhere from 2.5 to 3 billion gallons of ethanol production capacity that’s sitting there ready to roll,” Shaw said. “It’s just not being used because the demand’s not there.”

The Iowa bill looking to switch from E10 to E15 blends in the state garnered support earlier in the 2022 Legislative session, but it has since stalled in the Senate. Last year, the legislation did not pass in the Iowa statehouse. It is unclear how long it would take to switch ethanol production from one blend to the other in Iowa and other states.

Iowa representatives criticize EPA’s biofuel waivers

Tyler Chalfant | August 21st, 2019

On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted waivers from federal biofuel law to 31 small oil refineries. Members of Congress from Iowa on both sides of the aisle have criticized this move for hurting the state’s renewable fuel industry. 

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, refineries are normally required to blend biofuels like ethanol into their gasoline, or to purchase credits from those that do so. However, exemptions are available for small refineries that can prove that compliance with the rule would cause significant financial strife.

From 2013 to 2015, the EPA granted no more than eight waivers per year, but since Trump took office, the number of waivers has quadrupled. This latest round brings the total to 85 since 2016, and includes refineries owned by ExxonMobil and Chevron.

13 ethanol plants have recently shut down, three of them permanently, in part due to the loss in demand caused by these waivers. The country’s largest ethanol producer POET blamed the EPA as it was forced to close an Indiana plant on Tuesday.

Senator Chuck Grassley accused the government of not keeping its word and “screwing the farmer when we already have low prices for grain.” Iowa is the leading producer of corn and ethanol production in the U.S., and the industry supports nearly 43,000 jobs in the state.

Grassley supports Romney, but not his stance on wind energy

Photo by, Flickr.

Senator Chuck Grassley objects to Mitt Romney’s stance on federal tax incentives for wind energy.

Despite endorsing the presidential candidate, Grassley has expressed frustration over Romney’s plans to let the tax incentives expire. Currently, wind farms receive 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced.

Both Romney’s position and Congress’ continued inaction in extending the tax incentives have already led to layoff in the U.S. wind industry manufacturing sector.

Read more from The Gazette here.

EPA reneges their “farm dust” regulations

Photo by quinn.anya, Flickr

The EPA is backing away from proposed increased regulations on “farm dust”. Yesterday, the EPA told congress that they would not regulate dust produced by farm operations. This comes after considerable outrage over a proposal that would have tightened the limits on course particles. These particles can be harmful to lung function. Continue reading