Investments in biofuels infrastructure represent the best of all worlds as we chart a path to an energy economy that allows us to reduce carbon emissions and be less reliant on foreign energy sources while still supporting our rural communities and farmers.
As Congress considers investments in infrastructure, we need to take full advantage of the opportunities within biofuels to decarbonize our transportation sector and support rural communities — and that’s why I’ve been pushing my colleagues to seize this important opportunity to include biofuels in our infrastructure agenda.
A 2019 study found that the ethanol industry alone supported nearly 350,000 jobs directly and indirectly while contributing more than $40 billion to the economy. The biofuels industry is a major player in supporting Iowa’s rural communities today and will provide good-paying jobs for generations to come.
Our biofuels sector is also ready and able to be part of the 21st-century clean energy solution. Biofuels have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least half for ethanol and upwards of 80% for biodiesel. In fact, the biofuels sector is advancing rapidly and can see even greater carbon benefits in the near future.
These are the compelling proof points that I’ve used when educating Republicans and Democrats about why biofuels should be in our infrastructure legislation. I’ve told members of Congressional leadership and the White House that we must use our homegrown energy source that reduces our emissions and creates jobs across our nation.
This year I have already introduced the Low Carbon Biofuel Credit Act with Rep. Adrian Smith, which would increase the availability of higher blends of ethanol by creating a 5-cent tax credit for each gallon of E15 blended or sold and 10-cents for each gallon greater than E15.
I also introduced the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021 to extend the Biodiesel Tax Credit for three more years and the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, which will provide $500 million through the Department of Agriculture for the deployment of biofuels infrastructure over the next five years.
All these pieces of legislation are bipartisan and will continue the growth of ethanol and biodiesel — creating more opportunity for Iowa’s rural communities while reducing the pollutants we’re putting in our air.
I know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting our farmers and producers don’t have to be in conflict if we can invest in solutions like these that can do both.
Recent weeks have been disappointing for the biofuels industry following a discouraging ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court on year-round E15 and the Supreme Court on small-refinery exemptions.
The D.C. Court struck down a rule that had allowed the year-round sale of E15. The Court ruling said the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority but had nothing to do with the quality, safety or benefits of E15. We need to make it clear that the EPA does have the authority to do this.
The best way to fix this is through legislative action, and I am already working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to codify year-round E15. We cannot have the growth we need without year-round E15.
Biofuels are too important for our farmers, for our climate and for our rural communities to be forgotten about or pushed to the side.
I have told Congressional leaders and the White House that I will have strong reservations about supporting the infrastructure legislation President Joe Biden and Congress are working on when it reaches the House if there is not also support for biofuels.
I have been relentless in fighting for biofuels in Congress, and I will continue this fight.
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.