Over the past few months, my colleagues and I in Congress have engaged in discussions about investments we can make at the federal level to support our local economies, create jobs and meet the challenges facing our country in the coming decades.
One provision that I’ve successfully worked to include in the legislation we’re currently drafting is a homegrown solution that covers all those priorities: Iowa biofuels.
Right now the legislation includes numerous provisions that I fought for to support the renewable biofuels produced by Iowa for decades to come — supporting thousands of Iowa jobs, expanding markets for our producers and bringing better prices for our farmers.
I secured $1 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants over the next eight years to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.
This will ensure there are more places across the country using renewable fuels, allowing retailers to upgrade their equipment in order to use more of Iowa’s products.
That funding alone is projected to put an extra $400 million in the pockets of Iowa farmers through higher demand for our corn.
Our bill also has a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, another key priority for Iowa’s economy that I’ve fought for since my first days in Congress.
This extension would support a wide array of Iowa industries, from the fuel producers and innovators at plants across our rural communities to the farmers whose beans help make that fuel possible.
But these investments didn’t happen by accident, nor were they a sure thing when this debate began.
I know sometimes it can seem like Iowa’s voice might be easily drowned out in a Congress full of dozens of representatives from big oil and coastal states. But I’ve strived to speak with a voice that is 10 times louder, 10 times more persistent and 10 times clearer on the issues that matter for Iowa.
And since our infrastructure discussions began earlier this year, I have been helping members of the Biden Administration, the Senate and my own colleagues in the House understand the key advantages of biofuels and how many Iowans we will support with these investments.
I sat down with folks in Congress who’ve never seen an ear of corn still on its stalk, let alone visited a renewable fuel plant, to explain how our ethanol industry supports nearly 50,000 jobs in Iowa and creates over $2.4 billion of income.
For those who are concerned — like I am — about the increasing present dangers of climate change, I explained how biodiesel is nearly 75% cleaner than diesel and has reduced over 140 million tons of carbon in the last decade, all while supporting 13% of the value of soybean bushels.
To curb the effects of the climate crisis, I told them we need to drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels quickly. And to do that, we can’t just rely on energy technologies that are still years away from being available.
I told them my deep yet simple belief: biofuels must be part of America’s energy agenda.
That’s the message I took to my colleagues, and that’s why I wouldn’t let up.
Early on, it was clear from other infrastructure negotiations that biofuels was not as much of a priority for others in Washington.
And folks, while it was no easy fight — these investments included in our Build Back Better agenda prove that they listened to the Congresswoman from Iowa who was chasing them down the halls every chance she got.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be helping bring those investments in biofuels infrastructure and the biodiesel tax credit to the House floor.
In addition, my colleagues and I will be looking at additional tax credits that will support the conversion of renewable fuels in other parts of our transportation sector, like aviation fuel.
And by passing all of these provisions, we’ll chart a path for renewable biofuels as a key part of America’s energy sector for years to come — creating more jobs and supporting our farmers and producers along the way.
And while I know this work is not over until these investments are signed into law, and there are plenty of other priorities that will need to be ironed out before we reach that point, know that I will never stop fighting to deliver for you and the other Iowans I represent in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.