The biofuels industry is casting doubt on the idea liquid fuel will be phased out anytime soon, but it’s also lobbying for ethanol and biodiesel to be included in carbon reduction plans.
President Biden was joined by Ford and GM executives yesterday as he announced a set of fuel efficiency standards, with the goal of having up to half of the vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw refers to those kind of goals as aspirational.
“They aren’t all going to be purely EVs — electric vehicles,” Shaw said last weekend on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS. “Some of them will be what are called hybrid, where they still do have a liquid-powered engine and no one you talk to thinks it can happen that fast.”
Shaw suggested a vehicle in Iowa that’s burning gas with 85% ethanol today likely has a lower carbon footprint than an electric vehicle, because 25% of the electricity in Iowa is generated from coal.
“The corn plant sucks carbon out of the air,” Shaw said. “An EV doesn’t do that so we actually have a pathway where in the next 10 years we think we can get…actually net negative carbon fuel.”
Kelly Niewenhaus, a farmer from Primghar who is on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, said the other obstacle is there’s no nationwide grid to support electric vehicles.
“We’ve got the infrastructure today for more biofuels and to clean up our environment today and lower our greenhouse gas emissions and be the solution for climate change, so why not do that?” Niewenhaus asked.
And Niewenhaus, who was also a guest on last week’s “Iowa Press” program, said another market for ethanol is jet fuel. Batteries are still so heavy it’s unlikely electric airplanes will replace fossil fuel-powered aircraft anytime soon.
Several Republican lawmakers from Iowa, including Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, are criticizing the Biden Administration for backing development of electric vehicles while failing to include biofuels infrastructure in the president’s plans. Meanwhile, MidAmerican Energy is offering a $500 rebate to customers who purchase an electric vehicle, Hy-Vee has partnered with Tesla and another company to install charging stations and John Deere has unveiled a fully electric, autonomous tractor.