116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
President Joe Biden came to Iowa this week and promised his Environmental Protection Agency will issue an emergency action to make E15 ethanol blended fuel available for sale this summer. His hope is the move will help Americans dealing with high fuel prices because ethanol blends are cheaper per-gallon than standard unleaded gasoline.
“I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here,” Biden said, standing in front of two huge tractors and next to a large pile of distilled grain.
Biden’s plan drew praise even from Republicans, though somewhat muted.
“Thank-you to the Biden administration for this very welcome news. While there is more to be done from the administration to address high energy and fuel prices, unrestricted access to E15 is a great first step,” Reynolds said in the statement, noting that the federal action is temporary.
The brief moment of bipartisanship was welcome. And we understand the thinking behind the desire to make cheaper fuel choices available as inflation soars. The president is searching for ways take action against price hikes that have sapped his popularity. The biofuels lobby is always looking for new ways to get more government support for its products. It’s what they call a “win-win.”
But ethanol remains a loser for Iowa’s environment. The drive to beef up demand for the corn-based fuel and to meet that demand through intensive row crop farming has not been matched in any meaningful way with and effort to clean up waterways polluted by nitrates and phosphorus running off fields. That imbalance has soured our support for ethanol.
And now, Iowans face the prospect of having their property taken away through eminent domain to accommodate multibillion-dollar private carbon pipeline projects intended to further prop up the ethanol industry and make it appear greener. Billions in federal tax credits will be required to make the pipelines a reality.
We wish the president had said more about how the billions of dollars for water quality included in his infrastructure bill might address Iowa’s water woes. Or if his environmental agency will seriously evaluate the environmental effect of farming methods and do something about it.
We’re certainly glad the president stopped by. It was a classic Iowa political event. Hay bales? Check. Tractors? Check. Big old American flag? Check. Support for ethanol? Check.
But we’re more interested in Iowa’s and America’s energy future. Maybe next time.
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