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Give Homegrown Iowa Biofuels the Green Light

Spring is slowly but surely spreading across our great state, and that means one thing is certain: summer will be here before we know it.

Many Iowans will spend their summers on the road, whether that looks like packing all the kids in the family minivan for vacation, jumping in the truck for a weekend camping trip, or cruising down gravel backroads to catch a beautiful sunset. My car will be racking up miles, too, as I crisscross the state on my River to River Tour.

But if President Biden has his way, we might all be forced to pump the brakes on our travel plans.

His administration recently finalized a strict tailpipe emissions rule for passenger cars and trucks that will push at least 56% of new vehicle sales to be electric and another 13% to be plug-in hybrids or other partially electric cars by 2032. Forcing the auto industry to produce more electric vehicles (EVs) to comply with this mandate relies on infrastructure that doesn’t exist, wastes taxpayer dollars, makes us more reliant on China, and is out of touch with what consumers actually want.

To put it simply, folks, when the rubber meets the road, Biden’s EV fantasy just doesn’t work.

Luckily, there is a clear off-ramp to escape this road to nowhere: homegrown Iowa biofuels.

Throughout my time in Congress, I've been a strong advocate for biofuels and higher ethanol blends like E15. Iowa farmers already feed the nation, and with wider use of biofuels, they have the ability to help sustainably fuel the nation, too. However, the Biden administration continues to stifle biofuels at every turn.

For years, the use of E15 has been banned during the summer – the season in which we see the highest numbers of drivers on the roads. A special emergency waiver must be granted by the administration each year to allow for its use.

Finally, after continued advocacy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced they will allow year-round E15 sales in Iowa and seven other Midwestern states. I applaud Governor Kim Reynolds for leading this effort and securing permanent sales of E15. However, this change won’t actually be implemented until 2025.

The EPA’s unnecessary year-long delay punishes American families and farmers who have already faced record inflation, skyrocketing fuel prices, and uncertainty in the market thanks to this administration. As if that wasn’t enough, we now await another annual emergency waiver to allow E15 sales this upcoming summer.

This lack of urgency from the Biden administration hurts our consumers at the pump and our farmers in the fields. Biofuels are an essential part of our state’s economy. They are key to strengthening our rural communities and keeping gas prices low. That’s why we need a nationwide, permanent solution now – one that delivers E15 sales across the entire country, not just eight states in the Midwest.

I’ve been calling for this since 2017, and I’m not about to hit the brakes now. I’ll keep the pedal to the metal on the Biden administration until they give the green light to unleash the full potential of our homegrown biofuels – sooner rather than later.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.