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Following Ernst’s Urging, Trump Administration Invests in Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure

ANKENY, Iowa – Following Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) urging, the Trump Administration is following through on its commitment to invest in renewable fuel infrastructure in Iowa. The funding – made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) – aims to increase sales of ethanol and biofuel in the United States.
“Expanding infrastructure for renewable fuels is essential for increasing consumer access to higher biofuel blends – like E15 – and it’s something I’ve been pushing for as part of my continued fight for Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers,” said Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. “I applaud President Trump and the USDA for investing in Iowa-grown biofuels by expanding infrastructure which will in turn help provide Iowans, and folks across the country, greater access to cleaner, cheaper choices at the pump.”
“The origins of today's important announcement goes back a year to when Sen. Ernst led a coalition of Midwestern lawmakers in the Oval Office pushing President Trump to address damage done to the RFS by his EPA,” said Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “Expanding consumer access to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends is vital to the health of Iowa's rural economy. And IRFA thanks President Trump and USDA for following through on this commitment, but we especially thank Sen. Ernst for her tireless efforts to grow biofuels demand."
“Iowa Corn worked diligently with Senator Ernst to secure and develop this opportunity and partnered with many fuel retailers throughout the USDA application process to increase the availability of cleaner-burning E15 for Iowa motorists,” said Carl Jardon, Iowa Corn Growers Association President and farmer from Randolph, Iowa. “Iowa’s corn farmers sincerely thank Sen. Ernst and Casey’s General Stores for their commitment to making affordable, environmentally-friendly ethanol blends like E15 more widely available across the state. More than a dozen Iowa companies were awarded USDA funds to upgrade infrastructure allowing greater access to higher blends of ethanol and greater market opportunities for Iowa’s corn farmers.”
“Biodiesel is an important market for Iowa soybean farmers, providing value for surplus soybean oil,” said Iowa Soybean Association President Jeff Jorgenson of Sidney, IA. “USDA’s announcement today will put $14 million made available under HBIIP to work, significantly increasing the sale and use of higher blends of biodiesel by expanding fueling infrastructure. This will drive increased soybean oil demand and support higher prices received by farmers. Senator Ernst’s support of Iowa farmers and the renewable fuels industry has never wavered. Her strong resolve and consistent leadership has expanded biofuel infrastructure and will continue to grow an industry that Iowa’s farmers rely on.”
“Senator Ernst has been an outstanding champion for higher ethanol blends, and we’re thrilled to see those efforts continue to pay off with today’s announcement,”  said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The USDA’s latest grants offer a welcome ray of hope during an otherwise rough year for America’s farmers, retailers, and biofuel producers. They also represent a major milestone in our efforts to ensure more Americans can access cleaner and more affordable ethanol-blended fuel. With support from Secretary Perdue, USDA, and leaders like Senator Ernst, Growth Energy’s unmatched network of retail partners secured $30 million in grants for over 290 sites selling more than 400 million gallons of gasoline annually.”
“The grants announced today as part of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program would not have been possible without Senator Ernst’s tireless advocacy and commitment to farmers. Senator Ernst understood the challenge facing the renewable fuels industry and worked with USDA Secretary Perdue and President Trump to expand on and improve USDA’s incentive program for higher ethanol blends,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper.  “Because of Senator Ernst’s effective work, consumers in Iowa and across the country will have greater access to higher octane, lower cost fuels, farmers will have a more meaningful value-added market for grain, and our nation’s energy, economic, and environmental future will be improved.”
As a tireless advocate for Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers, Ernst has been pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow through on its commitment to expand biofuel infrastructure and uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Last year at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing,  Ernst asked Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky for details on the agency’s plans to seek opportunities to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate higher biofuels blends, as promised by the October 4 th deal that Senator Ernst, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA), negotiated with the Trump Administration regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
In January, USDA announced their  new initiative to build out infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol, like E15. Today, they are announcing an initial investment of $22 million in HBIIP grants to increase sales of American ethanol and biodiesel, including funding for 15 projects in Iowa.
In addition, Ernst has pressed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to help expand biofuel infrastructure and fix ongoing labeling issues for higher blends of ethanol. After she  pressed him on this issue at an EPW Committee hearing, Ernst  called on Administrator Wheeler to certify biofuel infrastructure for E15 and remove unnecessary labeling. Last month, the Trump Administration announced they would clarify the ability of existing fuel infrastructure to support expanded E15 use and deny so-called “gap year” petitions for small refinery exemptions (SREs) for past compliance years.