While King Corn appears to rule Iowa politics, it’s ethanol-free (E0) fuel that takes the crown over E15 – and all flex fuels combined – when it comes to Iowa consumers.
You read that right. Despite being the country’s leading producer of ethanol, and a top beneficiary of the Renewable Fuel Standard, is lagging behind in actual ethanol sales.
Recent data from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that over 200 million gallons of E0 were sold throughout the state in 2016. That’s more E0 fuel than the Environmental Protection Agency has projected the entire country will be able to use in the near future while still satisfying the RFS’s growing annual biofuel obligations. But don’t take our word for it, read it straight from EPA’s 2017 Renewable Volume Obligation ruling: “The RFS program would result in all but a tiny portion—estimated at 200 million gallons—of gasoline to contain at least 10 percent ethanol.” Hmmm. Do you think Iowa consumers and E0 gas stations knows that?
Beyond the E0 surprise, fuel ethanol accounted for only 9.2 percent of Iowa’s total volume of gasoline and fuel sales – less than the national average. Even while pushing for more aggressive ethanol mandate volumes and year-round sales of higher ethanol-blend fuels, Iowa isn’t carrying its own weight in terms of the RFS. Not even close.
Despite what biofuel lobbyists and ethanol-loving politicians say about the promises of RFS and fuel mandates, consumer behavior is what matters, and consumers are not showing the same love. This Iowa dichotomy is proof that the RFS isn’t working for consumers. Their preferences, not government fuel mandates, should determine the types of fuels available at the pump.