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IOWA PRODUCED RECORD AMOUNTS OF ETHANOL IN 2016
Des Moines (IA) Register reports:

Iowa's 43 ethanol plants produced a record 4.1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, according to a state trade group.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association credits increases in gasoline demand, E10 blending and ethanol export opportunities for the slight uptick in production over 2015's 4 billion gallons.

"Setting another annual ethanol production record is a testament to the efficiency and hard work of Iowa's ethanol plants," Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said in a news release. "However, Iowa has the resources, both in corn and plant capabilities, to do much more."

Shaw said Iowa can unlock a "wealth of untapped potential" by moving beyond E10 to higher blends at the pump like E15. He said the federal government should relax regulatory barriers to higher blends of ethanol that protect petroleum producers.

Shaw pointed to the recently released Iowa Energy Plan, a report outlining the state's energy needs over the next decade. Among other renewable energy priorities, the 100-page plan called for infrastructure upgrades to increase the availability of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

The report said ethanol production in Iowa produces $2.253 billion in gross domestic product and supports nearly 9,000 jobs.

In the coming year, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association will push to secure funding for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program to ensure more retailers have the equipment to offer higher blends of ethanol. Funding for that grant program expired in 2016.

"Home-grown ethanol is better for our environment, economy and national security," Shaw's statement said. "But we can't maximize all those benefits if the petroleum industry is allowed to monopolize access to the consumer."

Ethanol production will only continue to increase in Iowa with the addition of a new production plant in Atlantic.

Elite Octane is expected to hire at least 49 people as it breaks ground on the new plant in 2017, the Daily Nonpareil newspaper reported. The nearly $200 million plant will produce 120 million gallons of ethanol annually.

The Cass County Board of Supervisors will issue a $4 million bond to install new roads and other infrastructure to the 102-acre site just outside of Atlantic. The plant is expected to be operational by June 2018.


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