DES MOINES, IA - Iowa's Senate decided last week to scrap plans to debate a bill this week to mandate ethanol use in Iowa, effectively killing the legislation for this session, the Des Moines Register reports.
"Itï¿½ï¿½s probably dead," conceded Senator Jack Kibbie, Iowa's Senate president and sponsor of the bill that would require ethanol to be blended into all gasoline sold for highway use in Iowa. Despite being the country's largest ethanol producer, Iowa currently does not have a usage mandate, a result of opposition by truckers, fuel retailers, and fuel marketers.
"There was concern that people donï¿½ï¿½t like mandates, and of course the petroleum marketers didnï¿½ï¿½t like it," said Kibbie. "We couldnï¿½ï¿½t get the biodiesel bill through both houses last year so there was fear that the same would happen with an ethanol bill this year."
Kibbie and other ethanol supporters pointed out that Iowa ranks 32nd in the nation in ethanol use, despite being the country's largest producer.
Iowa has limited its government support of ethanol to retailers who sell above certain volumes.
"Weï¿½ï¿½re giving the petroleum marketers about $8-$10 million worth of tax credits," Kibbie said. "My bill would have eliminated those credits in return for the mandate."
The Kibbie bill had cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee and was thus a candidate for debate this week, but Kibbie said a meeting of the Democratic leadership decided against putting it on the calendar.
Opponents of the ethanol mandate include the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCSI), which maintains that the ultimate usage decision should be one of choice, not requirement.
"The reasons for an ethanol mandate just donï¿½ï¿½t stack up," said Dawn Carlson, president of PMCSI. "The ethanol industry has strong support from retailers in Iowa proven by their 82% market saturation. Still, 18% of consumers do not want to buy ethanol; they deserve that choice. Consumers deserve the benefits of free market."