Ethanol Industry Pushing State Lawmakers for Change

Source: By Allison Warren, ABC9 News • Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Galva, IA (ABC9 News)- Tuesday afternoon, Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds toured the Quad County Corn Processors’ Cellulosic Ethanol facility. They were excited to see the technology and what it could do for the industry, but are frustrated with the EPA and the pending decision regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard.

¬†“We’re very skeptical because the EPA has failed to do its duty and continue to promote renewable fuels, which is important to reducing pollution, reducing our dependency on foreign oil and ¬†growing jobs in Iowa,” Governor Branstad tells ABC9 News.
Developing technology at cellulosic ethanol facilities like this one could provide as much as and additional two billion gallons of ethanol, without using more corn.
While the main focus of the tour was the technology and the concerns with the renewable fuel standard, the ethanol industry as a whole is hoping to direct state lawmakers attention to another big issue.
Earlier this month the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against roughly 20 ethanol and biodiesel plants, and upheld a complicated system used to tax natural gas usage.
“The Supreme court ruling is talking about a legal issue, not necessarily about whether it’s good legislation,” says CEO of Quad County Corn Processors Delayne Johnson.
A 1998 replacement tax law on natural gas lines assesses users at a higher rate than some competitors. Quad County Corn Processors CEO Delayne Johnson says this is hurting business, and the ethanol industy is now taking things up with state lawmakers.
“We’re not as competetive as other plants on lines that may have been grandfathered or are on a large part of the interstate system,” Johnson says.
“My understanding is this is an issue that they basically grandfathered in the ones that were in existence before a certain date, but those new plants that have been built since then don’t get the same treatment. That doesn’t really seem fair,” Governor Branstad adds.
Ethanol plants say they don’t want to take money from the county or state government, and believe lawmakers could find a solution so no revenue would be lost.
“We want to pay our fair amount of tax and we want our counties and state to receive the right amount of tax, we just want that tax to be more equitable,” Johnson tells ABC9 News.
The Governor does say he thinks this is one of many issues facing the renewable fuel industry that he would like to see the legislature discuss. And the ethanol industry has promised to keep lobbying for the change.