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Reynolds not giving up on bill to require sale of higher ethanol blends

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s not giving up on her plan to boost the sale of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel, which is made with soybeans.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to drive renewable fuels,” Reynolds told reporters during a news conference. “We lead the country in renewable fuel energy. We’re the leading producer of corn, one or two in soybeans and so it’s a really important industry to the state.”

A bill requiring gas stations and convenience stores to offer fuel with a 15% ethanol blend by 2026 has been discussed in the legislature and there’s a senate subcommittee hearing on the concept today. However, time is running out for a plan to clear all hurdles in the legislature and reach the governor’s desk this year.

“Unfortunately, I don’t get everything I want. I try my hardest, but it’s just a reality of the legislative process,” Reynolds said, “so we won’t give up on it, but if I can’t get it through, we’ll continue to look for ways that we can continue to build the industry.”

If the bill falters, Reynolds said her back-up plan is to  convene meetings of the stakeholders in the debate this summer and fall. That would include the Corn Growers and biofuel producers that back the bill and representatives of gas stations and convenience stores that have lobbied against it.

“We should be partners in this…I’ve already talked to different stakeholders and have indicated this is my intent,” Reynolds said, “and let’s see what we can do and maybe come back next year and come back in a unified position.”

Retailers say they’d have to spend as much as a billion dollars to meet the state ethanol mandate and those costs would be passed along to consumers. Corn growers say expanding access to E15 would increase demand for corn by 23 million bushels and provide a $140 million boost to the economy.

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