With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's announcement last Friday, Iowa retail fuel stations are now cleared to sell the 15% blend of ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Iowa is "good to go" for E15 sales following the federal EPA's announcement that the final regulatory hurdles have been cleared. Yet, while the pathway to E15 sales is open, oil industry barriers remain during summer.
"It's serendipitous that EPA finalized the approval of E15 on June 15, the same day Governor Branstad declared June 15 as 'Iowa Ethanol Day,'" says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "It was 34 years ago today that the first retail sale of E10 occurred – and it occurred in Iowa. Now, on the same day, Iowa is good to go for E15. Retailers complying with the waiver process and fuel regulations can now begin selling E15 to 2001 and newer passenger vehicles."
Despite EPA's blessing, E15 unlikely to be widely offered for sale in summer
While the federal and state regulatory hurdles have been cleared, E15 is unlikely to be widely offered during the summer. Due to a quirk in federal fuel regulations, during summer (June 1 through Sept. 15) the gasoline blendstock needed to blend E15 is different from the gasoline blendstock for E10.
"Not surprisingly, the oil industry has used its fuel distribution monopoly to keep the blendstock for E15 out of Iowa," adds Shaw. "Some in our industry are attempting to bypass the oil system in order to bring the proper blendstock into Iowa, but it's too soon to know if that will prove feasible. Clearly, the oil industry isn't interested in consumer choice or lower cost fuel. Oil companies are interested in maintaining their near monopoly and the artificially high oil profits that result. So while the news last Friday from EPA is exciting, that excitement is tempered by the artificial marketplace hurdles thrown up by ethanol opponents."
Ethanol opponents are still throwing up artificial marketplace hurdles
Also on Friday June 15, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared June 15 as Iowa Ethanol Day in recognition of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association's 10th Anniversary and the 34th anniversary of the commercialization of E10.
Joined by members of the ethanol and biodiesel industry, Branstad signed the proclamation at the Iowa State Capitol. Noting that Iowa is the largest producer of ethanol and biodiesel and that renewable fuels help reduce gasoline prices by $1.69 per gallon, Branstad stated: "I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim today, June 15, 2012 as Iowa Ethanol Day."
To launch its 10th Anniversary celebration, IRFA released a new study detailing the positive impact of renewable fuels on Iowa's economy over the last decade. Economist John Urbanchuk, director for environmental economics with Cardno ENTRIX, a consulting firm, found that the "renewable fuels industry has grown spectacularly over the past decade and the state of Iowa has been a major participant and beneficiary."
Ethanol production in Iowa has risen 741% in last 10 years, biodiesel up 1,600%
According to Urbanchuk's study:
* Over the last decade in Iowa, ethanol production has increased 741%, while biodiesel production has increased an astounding 1,600%.
* The portion of Iowa's agricultural economic output attributable to the renewable fuels industry increased from 4.6% in 2002 to more than 37% in 2011.
* The price of farmland in Iowa has tripled over the past decade with the average price for all grades of cropland increasing from $2,083 per acre in 2002 to $6,708 in 2011. For acres planted to principal crops, the overall value of cropland in Iowa has increased from $51.2 billion in 2002 to $165.9 billion in 2011, an increase of 224%.
* In 2002 the renewable fuels industry was a negligible component of Iowa's manufacturing sector. By 2011, ethanol and biodiesel production accounted for nearly 7% of manufacturing sector output.
* The total number of jobs in the entire Iowa economy supported by the renewable fuels industry has grown from about 3,500 full-time equivalent jobs in 2002 to more than 79,000 in 2011, an increase of more than 2,000%. By 2011, the renewable fuels industry directly or indirectly supported 5.4% of Iowa employment.
* The renewable fuels industry has added $12.9 billion of income to the pockets of Iowans over the past decade.
* The renewable fuels industry has generated $1.8 billion of tax revenue for Iowa over the past decade.
Iowa's economy would be a lot different today if not for ethanol and biodiesel
"The last decade really has been one of progress and prosperity for renewable fuels and rural Iowa," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "The new IRFA study highlights the profound impact ethanol and biodiesel production have on Iowa jobs, Iowa income and Iowa wealth creation. Clearly, Iowa's economy would be in a much different place if ethanol and biodiesel production were still at 2002 levels. The members of IRFA are proud to have played a role in helping the industry grow."
Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.7 billion gallons annually.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at www.IowaRFA.org. The new economic study is listed on the site and is available for the public to read.