Opinion: Iowa producers, and consumers, need year-round E15

Source: By Jason Stauffer, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021

Kim Reynolds is laying the groundwork to ensure Iowa consumers will not lose access to the highest quality and lowest-cost fuel on the market today.

At a time when gas prices are on the rise, I want to offer my customers the best product for the lowest possible price. By selling E15 I can. Come June 1 of next year, the federal government won’t let me continue offering E15 to all my customers unless immediate action is taken. That is why I am thankful Gov. Kim Reynolds is working on behalf of retailers like me, and all Iowans to ensure that E15 will be available year-round before the June 1 deadline.

This month a bipartisan group of seven Midwest governors, led by Reynolds, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency signaling interest in taking action in their states to put E15 (15% ethanol) on the same regulatory footing as E10 (10% ethanol) so it can be sold all year. Right now E10 and E15 have different volatility regulations. That allows refiners to accommodate only E10 and to freeze E15 out of the market. That’s not right. I want to offer it to my customers. And many if not most of my customers want to buy.

While I still hope for a national solution from Congress or the EPA, there’s no sign that D.C. will fix this problem in time. But governors have the option under the Clean Air Act to request E10 and E15 be regulated equally. This would mean any gasoline the oil refiners send up the pipeline to Iowa could be blended to produce E10 or E15 all year.

Fuel retailers like Growmark FS have found success with E15. It is a cleaner fuel that is better for our customer’s engines, costs them less, and supports Iowa’s ag economy.

Growmark FS and many other Iowa retailers have invested nearly $250 million to upgrade our stations for higher blends of biofuel like E15 because we see its potential to boost our businesses and boost Iowa. In fact, the response for E15 was so good that we replaced E10 with E15 throughout our system. There was real momentum for E15 and sales were rapidly increasing until the oil refiner lawsuit threw a monkey wrench into the regulations.

But if no quick national solution arises, then Iowa and other Midwestern states must take action. Reynolds is laying the groundwork to ensure Iowa consumers will not lose access to the highest quality and lowest-cost fuel on the market today. We applaud her for standing up to oil refiners and leading the way toward a Midwest solution. E15 is too important to consumers and Iowa’s economy to be held back by lawsuits and D.C. inaction.

Jason Stauffer of Manson is manager of refined fuels and lubricants with Growmark FS.

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