Iowa leaders react to Biden electric vehicles target: What about biofuels?

By: - August 5, 2021 4:44 pm

The Biden administration has unveiled a proposed new rule intended to protect undocumented people from legal challenges to their residency. (Screen shot from White House livestream)

President Joe Biden set a new goal on Thursday: By 2030, half of all new vehicles should be electric.

“In America, there’s not a single solitary thing — nothing — beyond our capacity to get done when we do it together,” Biden said. “We have to act, and that’s what we’re doing today.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Iowa elected officials issued statements Thursday afternoon asking that, instead of focusing on electric vehicles, the Biden administration prioritize biofuels. Iowa is the nation’s top producer of ethanol.

“President Biden’s short-sighted stance on electric vehicles is undermining Iowa’s renewable fuel industry while simultaneously jeopardizing America’s energy independence,” Reynolds said in a news release, noting that biofuels were not supported in the latest infrastructure package.

The Renewable Fuels Association issued a statement that biofuels should be part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable Fuels Association President Geoff Cooper argued in a news release that, even if more new cars are electric, old cars on the road will still need liquid fuel.

“Renewable fuels like ethanol offer a solution that is available right here, right now at a low cost to jump-start decarbonization efforts,” Cooper said.

Iowa’s D.C. delegation weighed in on social media. Rep. Randy Feenstra echoed the RFA, citing a Department of Energy report that the majority of cars will still require liquid fuel in the coming decades.

Sen. Joni Ernst urged the Biden administration to focus on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions immediately through biofuels. Ernst also tweeted a Fox News story tracking the private flights of John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate. She wrote that those flights used “the same fossil fuels Biden’s Admin is pushing to eliminate.”

Rep. Ashley Hinson said the same, calling for biofuels as a right-now solution.

Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s only Democrat in D.C., did not explicitly push back against Biden’s new goals, but she pointed toward the Renewable Fuels Association’s goal for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Axne criticized the current infrastructure package in a trip to Iowa this week, calling a lack of biofuels funding “short-sighted.”

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie 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.