New Iowa biofuels access bill ensures Iowans have more choice at the pump

The Iowa Biofuels Access bill signed this month gives Iowans more access to E15, a clean-burning, grown-in-Iowa, lower-cost fuel choice. Currently, just 17 percent of Iowa’s fuel stations have access to E15 – also labeled as Unleaded 88; the bill is expected to expand to more than 70 percent of the retail stations by 2024.

E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline that can be safely used in vehicles 2001 and newer — that equals 96 percent of the nation’s fleet. E15 averages 10 cents per gallon less than E10 and often the discount is even greater. With inflation at a 40-year high, we’re all interested in savings at the pump. As President Joe Biden recently said, “[E15] gives you a choice at the pump. When you have a choice, you have competition; when you have competition, you have better prices.”

This is a time when cheaper does not compromise on performance. In fact, ethanol boosts the octane of your fuel, increasing engine efficiency and delivering completer fuel combustion. That combo means higher-octane fuel like E15 delivers superior vehicle performance without sacrificing gas mileage. Ethanol is a more affordable option because it’s homegrown and renewable.

Biofuels like E15 displace the harmful components from gasoline, reducing chemical emissions that have been shown to cause cancer and asthma episodes.

The American Lung Association believes it’s important to make clean air choices which improve air quality and positively impact lung health. Fifty percent or more of air pollution comes from the cars and vehicles we drive — regardless of community size. The solution is to drive fewer vehicles and drive less miles, but that’s unlikely to occur.

How do we address that? With a cleaner fuel option. Choosing E15 is a small change that can have a major impact. Corn-based ethanol products burn cleaner, and that’s good for the environment and lung health.

The Iowa Biofuels Access Bill should make E15 an option for more Iowa consumers by requiring new stations to offer E15 and providing cost-share grants and per-gallon tax credits to help existing stations make the updates needed to offer E15. The smallest retailers and those with outdated underground storage tanks or incompatible equipment requiring costly upgrades will be exempted. No one wants to see small businesses and retailers close. The measure does not restrict the sale of any fuels. The bill is pro-consumer, pro-retailer, pro-farmer and pro-Iowa.

Iowa is once again taking a lead on climate policy and making itself part of the solution. We hope high fuel-volume areas like California and the East Coast take note of this ready, homegrown solution that reduces carbon and fuel costs.

Angela Tin is the national senior director of Clean Air Initiatives at the American Lung Association. Grant Menke is the director of market development at the Iowa Corn Growers Association.


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