Des Moines Register: Ethanol advocates, opponents brace for ruling

By Donnelle Eller

Ethanol foes are expected to face off again over the federal mandate that requires ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply later this month.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to release its final Renewable Fuel Standard rule by the end of November.

The agency has been listening to arguments from oil, renewable fuel, environmental groups and others on where the standard should be set since May, when it released its proposed levels.

It’s a decision that’s critical to Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of both biodiesel and ethanol.

The federal agency’s proposed rule recommends increasing:

  • Ethanol made from corn to 14.8 billion gallons in 2017, 300 million gallons more than this year. Still, it falls short of the 15 billion gallons outlined in the federal law, says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
  • Cellulosic ethanol made from grasses, wood chips and corn stalks to 312 million gallons, 82 million more gallons than this year. Iowa is home to three cellulosic ethanol plants, in Galva, Emmetsburg and Nevada.
  • Biodiesel made from soybean oil, cooking oil and animal fat to 2.1 billion gallons in 2018, inching 100 million gallons higher than the levels required in 2017.

While most gasoline purchased nationally is E10 — 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline — Shaw said U.S. motorists are getting more comfortable buying higher ethanol blends, such as E15 and E85…

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