IOWA -- 2018 was another record year for Iowa ethanol production, nearing the full capacity the state is able to produce. 4.35 billion gallons were produced, 150 million gallons more than the year before and 150 million away from what is possible to manufacture. Iowa produces about 27 percent of total U.S. ethanol production.
Monte Shaw with the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association says despite strong production, they still need growing markets, "Even though there was some strong demand from the Iowa plants, the overall supply, demand side didn't keep up and so you had basically thin or narrow margins. We've seen ethanol plants put on the block, shut down. So, production great, but profits not so much."
Iowa also produced a record 365 million gallons of biodiesel.
Also impacting renewable fuels in the state, Wednesday saw a Senate confirmation hearing for the nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Wheeler is already serving as Acting Administrator and faced questions from Iowa Senator Joni Ernst on if oil refiners will continue to get exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Ernst asked, "Can you assure me then that you will be examining those exemptions and not giving blanket exemptions as it appears has been done in the past by your predecessor."
Wheeler replied, "Yes, we will be examining each one individually to make sure that each one is warranted individually."
Shaw says Wheeler was not clear on some of the questions posed about the Renewable Fuel Standard waivers, but he was clear that year-round E-15 will get done this year.
Shaw says, "With E15 he still seemed confident they can get it done by June 1st and that's great. On the RFS, I still have questions. He was pressed several times by Senator Ernst and others, about the small refiner exemptions that kind of ripped the heart out of the RFS under the previous administrator. But he really didn't paint the picture on how they're going to go forward."