IRFA requests E10 mandate

By Luke Geiver | January 04, 2010
Posted Jan. 26, 2010

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has requested Iowa legislators pass a statewide mandate requiring all motor vehicles to use at least a 10 percent ethanol blend. As the nation's largest producer of ethanol, with approximately 3.2 billion gallons produced at 39 ethanol plants, the state has never previously issued mandates for ethanol use. According to Monte Shaw, executive director of IRFA, ethanol fuel blends sold in Iowa remain around 75 percent while the rest of the nation stands at 80 percent. "Iowa is lagging behind the rest of the country in ethanol use," Shaw said at the annual IRFA summit held in January.

The IRFA's 2010 proposed ethanol mandate is not the first attempt by the organization. In 2006, IRFA unsuccessfully pursued an incentive program designed to boost E10, higher ethanol blends, and biodiesel. Now, according to Shaw, "after four years and no improvement on E10 or biodiesel, it' time to try again."

The proposed mandate comes as the ethanol industry awaits a final decision from the U.S.EPA to increase the current allowable blend of ethanol with gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver believes the E10 mandate "is a step in the right direction."

"This can make a statement about our commitment to biofuels and solidify our position as a national leader in the green economy," Culver said. Although he has indicated he would not support the IRFA E10 mandate, Culver is pushing federal officials to extend a biodiesel tax credit and to approve an increase in the blend of ethanol in unleaded gasoline to 15 percent.

State Rep. Annette Sweeney (R-Alden) said she has brought the matter up with the Republican caucus. "I know there's interest in the bill and there will be more once the case is made for how important the ethanol industry is to Iowa," said Sweeney. Sen. Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg), who will introduce a bill requiring 10 percent ethanol blends for highway use, said, "People need to understand that without ethanol, corn and farmland would be worth about half as much as they are today."

If the state mandate was passed, Shaw estimates that approximately 100 million gallons of ethanol now sold in Iowa would be increased to about 140 million gallons.