Iowa Republican lawmakers and biofuels interest groups expressed disappointment after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that holds steady the amount of corn-based ethanol that oil refiners must blend into the nation’s fuel mix over the next three years.
While increasing blending volumes overall by raising the level for advanced biofuels, the new rule includes lower mandates for ethanol in 2024 and 2025 than the EPA had initially proposed.
Industry officials, farm advocates and members of Iowa’s congressional delegation said the levels ignore production capacity and projected growth in biofuels. The industry is an important market for Iowa farmers because more than half of the state’s corn is used to produce ethanol.
While the overall increased volumes for biodiesel are a slight improvement, it comes at the expense of ethanol, “therefore pitting one biofuel against another,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a statement.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said “biofuels can play a key role in fighting off this energy crisis and provide millions of Americans with cheaper, cleaner burning fuel.”
Ethanol plants in Iowa produced an estimated 4.5 billion gallons in 2022 — a record — and supported more than 57,000 jobs and accounted for nearly $7.2 billion in economic activity in the state, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
Environmentalists argue investing in increased corn production to generate more ethanol fosters unsustainable farming practices that erode soil and water quality, raises food prices and actually increases emissions.