Iowa fuel customers are fortunate that our state continues to lead the way in the production and availability of homegrown, clean burning renewable biofuels. The vast majority of the fuel sold in Iowa contains 10 percent ethanol with higher blends becoming more available.
E15, fuel that is 15 percent ethanol, has been approved by the EPA for use in all cars model year 2001 and newer and all flex-fuel vehicles. E15 is already available at 64 retail stations statewide today and will be at dozens more by year end.
This significant growth in access to E15 is thanks in part to the “Fueling our Future” initiative, which is a collaboration between the Governor’s office, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Economic Development Authority and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Through this program 203 new blender pumps and 16 underground storage tanks are being installed in the state at 64 fueling sites to provide consumers with access to higher blends of ethanol.
The “Fueling our Future” initiative was built on past success of Iowa’s Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program (RFIP) managed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Since 2007 the RFIP has provided more than $25 million to fuel retailers across the state to expand access to renewable fuels, including 278 ethanol and 223 biodiesel projects during that time.
This continued growth in use of renewable fuels has a multitude of benefits for our state. The air we breathe and the water we drink and use for recreation is cleaner thanks to ethanol. In recent years, ethanol has replaced toxic fuel additives that have been directly linked to cancer and smog. One additive in particular, MTBE, was found to be seeping into groundwater and polluting our nation’s rivers and lakes.
Studies have also found that ethanol use dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40 percent for corn ethanol and 86 percent for cellulosic ethanol. Those numbers have grown as our farmers and ethanol plants have become more efficient and are expected to move even higher as we see further technological improvements.
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In addition to the environmental benefits, the 43 ethanol plants and 12 biodiesel facilities in our state provide high-tech jobs in our local communities and contribute millions to our economy.
Unfortunately, big oil and their paid critics of ethanol are working to impede this incredible progress and drag our country and our economy back to a dirtier, less productive time.
Every time I am filling up and see the ethanol label on the pump, I feel pride in my state, in our people and in the product we are providing an increasingly green world. I hope you do too. Ethanol is powering our state and nation to a better tomorrow and I am proud Iowa is helping steer the way.
• Bill Northey has served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture since 2007.