Gov. Kim Reynolds is looking forward to “building those same relationships” with President Joe Biden and his Environmental Protection Agency staff that she had with the Trump administration to protect biofuels, Reynolds said during Tuesday’s virtual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.
Reynolds, a self-described “tireless advocate and unwavering fighter of the biofuels industry,” pointed to EPA small-refinery exemptions granted during the Trump administration as a key challenge to Iowa’s future ethanol success.
With the exemption, a refinery is permitted to avoid blending ethanol into its fuel and therefore reduce demand for Iowa ethanol.
“I will hold this administration and the new EPA administrator accountable for transparent and fair rulings on biofuels,” Reynolds said, “just as I have always done with previous administrations.”
In the final week of the Trump administration, the EPA granted another three small-refinery waivers, angering Iowa’s congressional delegation.
Reynolds also advocated for increased foreign trade of Iowa ethanol.
“We look forward to continuing our work to increase global demand as we look for new markets and rebuild existing” markets, Reynolds said.
Terry Branstad, the former U.S. ambassador to China and six-term Iowa governor, recommended ethanol producers and farmers build relationships overseas — especially in Asia — to promote more exporting of ethanol.
“If you have that friendship, that relationship, that really opens the door when there’s a need,” Branstad said. “It’s a little difficult now because of the pandemic and the restrictions on travel, but as soon as this is over, I think it’s important for people to travel to have those face-to-face meetings.”
Reynolds has talked with other Midwest governors about legislation at the state level to increase biofuels demand in the region.
“There’s an interest already from (Nebraska) Gov. Ricketts and (Missouri) Gov. Parson and especially (South Dakota) Gov. Noem,” Reynolds said.
“Even Illinois and Minnesota have taken some steps to help drive higher blends.”
Reynolds said she plans to introduce legislation involving an E10 and B11 fuel standard, a rule requiring new or renovated retail gas pumps to be compatible with higher ethanol blends, a reinvestment of fuel retailer tax credits and $2 million in funding for renewable fuels infrastructure.
Reynolds’ spokesman Pat Garrett declined to provide details of what Reynolds will propose.
“We will have more details at a later date,” Garrett said in a text message to The Gazette.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw earlier during the online event described the industry as “battered, but battling for a better future.”
Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development estimated the industry lost $2.5 billion because of the pandemic.
Specialty ingredients company Ingredion said earlier in January it stopped producing ethanol at its Cedar Rapids plant, resulting in 35 positions being eliminated.
Comments: (319) 398-8394; firstname.lastname@example.org