Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation Tuesday that will require the state's fuel retailers to begin selling E15 gasoline or face penalties, a novel standard pitched as a way to expand consumer options in the face of high and rising prices.

The Iowa Biofuels Access Bill, which passed through the state legislature with overwhelming support last month, established deadlines by which fuel stations must comply in selling E15, a gasoline blend made up of 15% ethanol, and expanded grants to help subsidize the costs of compliance for businesses.


Retailers “with compatible infrastructure” must offer E15 by Jan. 1, 2026, from at least one dispenser, while newer retailers and those that install new tank designs must offer E15 from at least 50% of dispensers after Jan. 1, 2023. The new law provides for some waivers, including for small retail locations.

The law also established new tax credits for renewable fuels and new tax credits for B20 and B30 blended biodiesel.

Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, called the new standard "groundbreaking" and said its design was to make cheaper alternatives to E10 more widely available. E10 accounts for the overwhelming share of fuel in the country.

"The premise of this bill is that every Iowan deserves a choice to choose E15 if they want to," Shaw told the Washington Examiner. "That's why it's called an access standard."

E15 is now available at around 10% of Iowa's gas stations, according to Shaw, who said it has been selling for between 10 cents to 30 cents per gallon less than E10.

E15 has been part of the broader national energy story developing in recent weeks as gasoline prices have increased to record levels.

President Joe Biden announced April 12 that the Environmental Protection Agency would waive restrictions limiting the sale of E15 throughout the summer, a move meant to help lower fuel prices for drivers. A number of lawmakers from Midwestern states, where the bulk of corn for ethanol is grown, had been urging Biden to issue the emergency waiver.

Biden's E15 announcement was not uniformly welcome, however. Groups representing oil refinery interests and fuel retailers, which frequently go head-to-head with the ethanol lobby on renewable fuel programs, opposed the decision.

Chet Thompson, the president and CEO of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, called it unlawful and said it wouldn't fix the problems causing high fuel prices.

“Emergency fuel waivers are short-term and reserved for very specific unforeseen events and regionally acute supply disruptions, such as those resulting from a hurricane,” Thompson said in a statement at the time. “An additional three months of E15 sales won’t do anything to address high crude oil prices.”

Other opponents and skeptics have also noted that E15 is currently sold at a very small number of gas stations nationwide (less than 3,000) — suggesting more E15 wouldn't help most drivers.

As for Shaw, who represents the renewable fuel industry in the nation's top ethanol-producing state, states have "got to start somewhere" to expand E15 and higher blends to give drivers more choices and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.


"We want to export this policy to other states and say, 'Here's an option you can have that's not an [electric vehicle] mandate,'" he said.