Opinion | A commitment to improving biofuels infrastructure bodes well for Iowa

Iowa will benefit from improving biofuels infrastructure through the Build Back Better Act.

Sophie Stover, Opinions Contributor

Iowa will benefit greatly from the addition of $1 billion for biofuels infrastructure in the 2021 budget reconciliation bill.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy report, Iowa leads the country in ethanol production and is second in biodiesel production. The benefits of producing these fuels are abundant not only for Iowa, but also green energy.

In terms of economic benefits for Iowa, biofuels production accounted for almost $4 billion of the state’s GDP in 2020, in addition to generating $1.8 billion of income for Iowans. More than 37,000 people were employed in the industry in Iowa last year.

Both types of fuel support green energy initiatives, as shown by statistics from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Biodiesel, in comparison to petroleum diesel, cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions by 56 to 86 percent, and reduces wastewater and hazardous waste by 79 and 96 percent, respectively. As for ethanol, it’s renewable and non-toxic, cutting down on carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 to 50 percent.

The addition of biofuels in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill, also known as the Build Back Better Act, will expand availability of these fuels and bolster production capacity. In addition, the bill will include an extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, has said increased production by 400 million gallons from 2013-16.

Iowans and our members of Congress understand how important this industry is for our state. In May, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, in addition to Reps. Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, all publicly called on President Joe Biden to support the biofuels industry. While the GOP delegation is supportive of the industry, Axne — the lone Democrat from Iowa — has been the outspoken champion in persuading Congress to invest in biofuels infrastructure.

Axne wrote a letter to House leadership and various committee chairs in April, urging the prioritization of biofuels in infrastructure investments. Because many members of Congress don’t have a background in agriculture, Axne worked to convince her colleagues of the benefits that biofuels investments will bring.

This month, she announced that she had secured the $1 billion commitment to provide funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture geared toward improving biofuels infrastructure.

“To fight climate change, we can’t just keep arguing over what one policy is best to cut emissions. We need to use every tool in our toolbelt – both renewables and electric – to meet the challenge we’re facing,” Axne wrote in a press release.

She is absolutely correct that Iowa can greatly contribute to fighting our climate change battle by immediately producing more biofuels.

Iowa has an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to fighting our changing climate through the biofuels industry. In addition to the need to prioritize green initiatives, our state’s economy will benefit from improving biofuels infrastructure.

State politicians, particularly Axne, have set out to prioritize Iowans through a commitment to expanding biofuels. The future of Iowa’s economy looks bright as the money in the infrastructure bill expands biofuels production.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.