Iowa politicians united in opposition to biofuel mandate cuts

Source: By KATIE AKIN, Capitol Dispatch • Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Iowa politicians are united in their opposition to lowering federal biofuel blending standards amid reports that President Joe Biden is considering rolling them back.

Reuters reported last week that Biden is considering cutting biofuel blending requirements due to a lower demand for gasoline. Under the potential plan, Biden would retroactively lower mandates for 2020 and 2021 by billions of gallons. Reuters estimates that ethanol would be the hardest-hit by the new policy — bad news for Iowa, the country’s top corn and ethanol producer.

Biden has not formally announced plans to change biofuel blending requirements, but all six members of Iowa’s D.C. delegation have already condemned the idea.

Sen. Joni Ernst tweeted that she would be “holding the Biden Administration’s feet to the fire” to maintain the current renewable fuel standards.  Her fellow Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, tweeted twice on Tuesday morning, urging Democratic senators to advocate for biofuels.

Rep. Cindy Axne joined fellow Democrats from both chambers in a Tuesday letter thanking Biden for his “work to decarbonize our nation’s transportation sector” but asking him not to lower blending requirements.

“Rather than exempting refiners of their obligations under the Clean Air Act, we urge the Administration to provide additional certainty and stability to the renewable fuels marketplace by issuing strong (blending requirements) for 2021 and 2022, and declining to remand any gallons from the 2020 (requirements),” the letter reads.

Iowa’s Republican representatives — Reps. Randy Feenstra, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson — signed onto a letter last week, arguing that the biofuels industry would be “devastated” if Biden changed biofuel standards.

“Given the challenges facing our farmers from all sides on this issue, it is imperative that your Administration choose to stand with American farmers,” the letter reads.

The Iowa Renewable Fuel Association (IRFA) also sent a letter to Biden, pleading with him not to lower the renewable fuel standards. The letter cited a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll that found 85% of Iowans recognize the importance of biofuels to the state’s economy.

“In short, if you walk away from ethanol, you walk away from Iowa,” the IRFA letter reads.