Capital Clicks

Iowa’s ethanol production sets new record, group says

By: - January 9, 2023 2:44 pm

More than half of Iowa's corn is used to produce ethanol each year. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Ethanol plants in Iowa produced an estimated 4.5 billion gallons in 2022 — a new record for the state, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

The association’s estimate is based on survey data, public reports and other information. It surpasses the state’s 2021 estimated production record of 4.4 billion gallons.

“Iowa continues to set the pace for ethanol production around the world,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the association. “The attractive price of E15 and E85 drove sales during the 2022 gas price spike. Barring a recession, we expect ethanol demand to grow each year as Iowa and other states make progress in increasing access to E15, often marketed as Unleaded 88.”

The new production record is roughly the current total production capacity of the state’s 42 ethanol plants, according to association data.

The industry is an important market for Iowa farmers: More than half of the state’s corn is used to produce ethanol.

State lawmakers last year adopted legislation that would require the sale of blended fuels that are 15% ethanol at gas stations. E10 — a blended fuel with 10% ethanol — has long been the standard blend.

The new state law has exemptions for smaller gas stations and grant money to help update underground tanks and pumps to accommodate the higher ethanol blend.

Federal legislation that would expand the summertime availability of E15 in many states has lacked sufficient support for years for adoption, but the country’s largest trade association for the oil and natural gas industries indicated late last year it will support the idea.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.