Pro-renewable fuel lobbyists head to Iowa's capital to fight for - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Pro-renewable fuel lobbyists head to Iowa's capital to fight for tax incentives

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - As gas prices continue to rise, it's an easy choice at the gas pump when it comes to picking a type of gas you want, because some ethanol blends can be up to sixty to seventy cents cheaper.

But the renewable fuel authorities in the state of Iowa visited with state legislators on Wednesday to talk about a proposal at the federal level, one they say could put Iowa's renewable fuels in jeopardy.

Iowa's renewable fuel production leads the nation, and representatives with Iowa's Biodiesel Board say the effects within the state border to the economy and the job market are tangible. 

But, they say, that success isn't possible without government tax incentives.

"We still have room to grow, and produce more, but in order to maintain production levels at least as high as where we're at, we certainly need these incentives to do that," Grant Kimberley, Executive Director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has supported renewable fuel production since 2007 with the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS sets a floor for the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced each year. 

But the EPA proposed cuts to the ethanol RFS and proposed maintaining the biodiesel RFS for 2014, something Kimberley says could be devastating to Iowa's renewable fuel industry.

"If all of a sudden you cut the legs out from underneath it, it could have a ripple effect back through a lot of different sectors of the Iowa and US economy," Kimberley said.

Renewable fuel lobbyists in Washington, D.C. say EPA's proposal is all because of big oil companies pressuring their way to a higher income.

"It's clear that the impetus here is coming from oil companies, who are putting a lot of pressure on the administration and congress to try to protect their monopoly," Dan Leistikow, Americans United for Change said.

But representatives of the American Petroleum Industry say they're in support of renewable fuel blends, but not up to the percentage amount the government is currently mandating. 

Bob Greco, a representative of the American Petroleum Industry says the RFS is just a floor, not a limit, on how much renewable fuel can be produced.

"If customers want to use E15, if customers want to use E85, then they're able to do that, and that provides additional growth for ethanol use. Our concern is that the mandate would force those fuels into the market and force consumers to be confronted with fuels that they frankly haven't been asking for right now," Greco said.

Regardless of what happens with the EPA's proposal, those immersed in Iowa's renewable fuel industry say maintaining the production is crucial for the economy. 

They'll keep lobbying the state and federal government for the support they need.

The EPA is expected to make a final decision on their initial proposal to lower the renewable fuel standard in June of this year.
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