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Iowa’s two U.S. senators are calling on the Biden administration and Congress to quickly replace Russian oil with “clean, American-made renewable fuels” like Iowa biofuels.
Biofuels can fill the demand and lower the cost to motorists because “the cost of ethanol is much less expensive as biodiesel than just straight-up petroleum products,” Sen. Joni Ernst told reporters Wednesday. “That will make an immediate impact to the cost of fuel across the United States.”
Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley are introducing the Home Front Energy Independence Act to replace banned Russian oil with American renewable fuels currently available.
The proposal would combine parts of previous legislation to make E15 available year-round, establish an E15 and biodiesel tax credit, direct the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize its E15 labeling rule and provide for biofuel infrastructure and compatibility with retailers.
“Iowa’s clean, American-made, renewable fuels are ready and available to meet our nation's needs right away,” Ernst said. “In fact, the current excess ethanol capacity domestically is nearly the same as the amount of Russian gas the U.S. had been importing — roughly 83 million barrels versus 87 million barrels.”
With the national average price of gasoline hitting $4.17 a gallon, “it's far past time for President Biden to make good on the promises he made on the campaign trail to Iowa farmers and producers and to pass our bipartisan legislation to unleash Iowa biofuel right now,” Ernst said.
As he travels around the state, Grassley said, he sees E15 priced 30 to 40 cents a gallon less than non-blended gasoline.
“It's very clear that biofuels provide a quick and easy solution for lowering prices at the pump,” said Grassley, who is running for re-election.
The proposed legislation is a “clean-energy solution that can immediately lower gas prices and bolster American energy independence.”
He was critical of reported attempts by the Biden administration to get OPEC to increase production or to buy oil from Venezuela.
“This is an urgent or very urgent problem that is impacting families across the country,” Grassley said. “Iowa producers stand ready to meet the moment and to ramp up production. The answer is Iowa biofuels, not OPEC oil.”
Grassley was critical of the president’s energy program, which has included stopping the XL pipeline and some offshore drilling, with more restrictions on fracking.
“The president is probably going to be reluctant to do anything other than cry about importing more oil,” Grassley said.
Gas prices were going up before Russia invaded Ukraine and Biden announced the ban on importing Russian oil, which makes up about 3 percent of the U.S. supply.
At the same time gas prices are rising, he said, “President Biden is off talking about electric vehicles, which require rare earth minerals that come from where? Russia and China.”
Ernst and Grassley conceded it will take support from both parties to approve their legislation.
“I think it’s going to take the same bipartisan outrage from the Congress that forced him yesterday to say we aren't going to take Russian oil,” Grassley said.
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