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Iowa E15 sales surge makes sense

Dirck Steimel

Americans can now fill up with E15 year-round, and last year Iowa drivers took advantage of that new freedom to buy the 15% fuel blend that burns cleaner, packs more octane and is more affordable at the pump.

Sales of E15 jumped 24% in Iowa during 2020 to just under 61 million gallons. That was up from nearly 49 million gallons in 2019 and more than double the volume of E15 in 2017.

Even more remarkable: Iowa’s E15 sales grew by almost one-quarter during a year when the COVID-19 pandemic caused overall gasoline demand to plum­­met more than 14%. 

The growth of E15 demand during a down year for overall fuel demand is a clear indication that Iowans understand the value of a home-grown fuel like ethanol. 

They understand that clean-burning biofuels provide crucial growth opportunities for rural communities and the state’s farmers. There are thousands of good jobs at Iowa’s 43 ethanol refineries and 11 biofuel plants, most of them in rural communities, where high-paying jobs are often hard to come by. 

Many Iowans also appreciate the environmental benefits of biofuels. Recent studies show that greenhouse gas (GHG) em­­issions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than those from gasoline, or even lower than that depending on how the ethanol is made.

But maybe the biggest reason ethanol demand is strong in Iowa is that Iowans are sensible people. They know they’re getting a good deal on good fuel and just want more of it.


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