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LETTER: Biofuels Important to Iowa

Published in The Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs,Iowa)
March 18, 2021 

March 18 marks National Biodiesel Day, a day to celebrate biodiesel's contributions to our economy and environment. Iowa leads the nation in biodiesel production — handling 20 percent of the output in the U.S. This is a position of strength in manufacturing that we should not take for granted.

While many Iowans have embraced the use of biofuels, there's more our state can do. At least two of our neighboring states — Missouri and Minnesota — have biofuels standards in place. In fact we often ship biodiesel to Minnesota – why not use it here instead? The time has come for a Biofuels Standard in Iowa.

This legislation, introduced by the governor, would set a minimum biofuel content in Iowa's gasoline and diesel. This would increase demand while saving taxpayer money, allowing current incentives to redirected into needed infrastructure.

Our state's biodiesel plants, like Western Iowa Energy in Wall Lake, have put a lot of the oil from soybeans to good use. Over the last decade, biodiesel demand for soybean oil has grown by 300%. This adds 13% to the cash price of every bushel of soybeans. But the economic benefit extends beyond agriculture. Biofuels support more than 37,000 jobs through the entire Iowa economy, according to ABF Economics. Yet our biodiesel plants are running below capacity — a missed economic opportunity.

Several states already have aggressive low-carbon fuel requirements in place, with more on the horizon. Many point to electric vehicles as the answer. We in Iowa understand there's more than one way to do something, and that not all engines can be powered sufficiently by electricity immediately. Biodiesel works right now in any diesel engine — achieving the same goal of helping the environment. In fact, biodiesel reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by 78% compared to diesel fuel.

Those opposed to the standard argue it will take away consumer choice. This legislation still allows retailers to offer E0 for older cars, small or off-road motors, boats, and motorcycles. More importantly, centuries of unfettered petroleum dominance are coming to an end, and this legislation allows for more biodiesel made from inputs right here in the Midwest, increasing access to higher quality fuel choices that will save Iowans' money.

I hope you'll encourage our legislators in Des Moines to adopt the biofuels standard. And next time you're at the pump, consider how the fuel you buy gives back to Iowa again and again!
Brad Wilson
Wall Lake


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