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Iowa’s renewable fuels industry poised to thrive

Photo courtesy of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA)

Iowa’s renewable fuels industry last year underwent its largest expansion in a decade, thanks to a record year of trade and E15 sales. An Iowa Renewable Fuels Association spokesman talks about the industry’s future and what they need to thrive.

Monte Shaw serves as executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). Shaw says Iowa’s renewable industry can choose to survive or thrive in 2018. He believes those attending the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Summit Tuesday want the industry to thrive.

“The opportunities are there – the technology and feedstocks,” Shaw said. “We need a little help in policy, but we’re going after the market share of the most rich and powerful industry in the history of the world that still gets subsidies. If we can get a little policy boost, we’re ready to expand production and have meaningful impacts for farmers.”

Shaw says Iowa RFA first wants to see an increased Renewable Fuels Standard.

“We need to see those annual levels go up,” Shaw said. “Last year, everything was kind of flatlined or taken down. Specifically we need to see biodiesel, corn kernel fiber and other types of cellulosic ethanol numbers go up.”

Shaw adds IRFA would also like to see tax credits for biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.

“The oil industry has 105-years of continuous tax preferences at the federal level and they still exist today. We’re trying to get these new, tiny, more infant type of industries, compared to oil, up on their own two feet. It’s  hard to do that when the big guy isn’t getting tax preferences and it’s really hard when they are,” Shaw said.

In addition, Iowa RFA would like to see revised regulations. IRFA specifically seeks changes to a regulation banning E15 sales year round across most of the U.S.

“Let’s change it; let’s fix it,” Shaw said. “No one argues the merits of keeping it the way it is. It makes no sense and it could open up billions of gallons of opportunities for ethanol blending which of course might be why some in the petroleum industry oppose it.”