D.C. Dispatch: Iowa delegation united to allow year-round E-15 sales

By: - July 16, 2021 10:23 am

EPA has asked an appeals court to throw out three biofuels waivers granted by the Trump administration. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

This week in D.C., the Iowa delegation came together on bills that would allow the year-round sale of E-15 fuel. They also introduced or co-sponsored bills on broadband, immigration and home repair. 

Iowa’s entire D.C. delegation teams up on biofuels

All six of Iowa’s elected officials in D.C. have signed onto legislation that would amend the Clean Air Act to allow the year-round sale of higher ethanol blends.

The bills differ slightly between chambers, but both would create a waiver for E-15 blends, which contain 15% ethanol, to be sold all year. The legislation is a response to a recent court decision that said E-15 could not use the same volatility waiver that applied to E-10 for year-round sales.

Sen. Joni Ernst said in a press release that she had been “extremely disappointed” by the court’s decision.

“Iowa farmers, biofuel producers, and American consumers need certainty, and they need it now,” she said. “That’s why I’m working with Democrats and Republicans to ensure this cleaner, more affordable option stays available at the pump year-round.”

Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of biofuels.

“As the largest ethanol and biodiesel producing district in the country, I will continue fighting for policies that prevent oil refineries from stomping on our family farms and biofuel producers in Iowa,” Rep. Randy Feenstra said in a news release.

Grassley introduces bipartisan broadband bill

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced a bipartisan bill this week to make federal broadband funding more flexible, especially for those areas that have already received state funds. The bill would also allow states to use COVID-19 relief funds on broadband projects. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, is cosponsoring the legislation.

Miller-Meeks introduces bill on unaccompanied minor care

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks introduced a bill with Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas that would clarify the responsibilities of the Department of Health and Human Services in caring for children who cross the border unaccompanied. The bill would also increase the number of immigration judge teams by 225 to reduce the backlog of immigration cases.

Hinson asks for investigation into stolen unemployment funds

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson wrote a letter with 15 other representatives asking Department of Labor Acting Inspector General Larry Turner to investigate fraudulent COVID-19 insurance claims. The letter cites an Axios report that up to $400 billion could have been stolen.

“The American people deserve to know the extent of this theft, and legislators must know what policies must be reformed in order to ensure this criminal activity does not continue,” the letter reads.

Ernst and Miller-Meeks write against new WOTUS rules

Miller-Meeks and Ernst joined over 50 colleagues in a bicameral letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging them not to expand the definition of federally protected waters.  Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules proposed under the Obama administration faced opposition from farm groups and GOP officials who believed they represented an overreach by the federal agency.

Axne co-sponsors home repair bill

Rep. Cindy Axne became a co-sponsor of a bill to create a tax credit for individuals who buy and repair homes in distressed neighborhoods.

ICYMI: Other Ernst and Grassley news from this week

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.