Open Letter to Senator Bernie Sanders from IRFA

Open Letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders

August 27, 2021

Senator Bernie Sanders:

You’re certainly no stranger to Iowa and we hope your return trip this Sunday will bring back many pleasant memories. As you discuss the importance of the working-class, especially in rural areas that have often been forgotten by those in Washington DC, we hope you won’t forget your past commitment to utilizing biofuels in the fight to lower tailpipe and carbon emissions.

That’s why we need to ask about your support of legislation that will have dire economic consequences not only here in Iowa, but in small towns across the Midwest.

The so-called Zero-Emission Vehicles Act would begin a phased-in ban on the sale of vehicles that can run on biofuels starting in 2025. Such a drastic, short-sighted policy not only hurts domestically grown biofuels, but could even lead to higher, not lower, carbon emissions.

Today a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) that runs on 85% ethanol is cleaner and better for the environment than an electric vehicle (EV) charged in states like Minnesota or Missouri which are powered by coal. Furthermore, with continued improvements in farming and processing, by the end of this decade ethanol could have a carbon negative footprint, which is something EVs won’t ever be able to claim.

Given the far reaching negative consequences for both Iowa’s economy and our environment, last year every federal candidate in Iowa, Democrat and Republican, came out against this detrimental piece of legislation.

To your credit, you once understood the importance of biofuels for blue collar workers. During the 2016 presidential election you called ethanol “an economic lifeline to rural and farm communities in Iowa and throughout the Midwest.” Yet, now you want to ban the very vehicles that use biofuels.

We hope by the end of your trip to Iowa you’ll remember that biofuels, and the nearly 40,000 jobs it supports in Iowa, are a key part of economic revival in rural America while providing one of the best solutions for reducing our carbon footprint today and in the future.


Mike Jerke
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association