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Expand chart
Data: Iowa Department of Revenue; Chart: Axios Visuals

Iowa’s longtime goal to replace 25% of petroleum used in gasoline with biofuels by 2020 fell far short, a new report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows.

By the numbers: Last year hit 14.5%, a record yet still short by roughly 226.2 million gallons needed to reach the mark set by lawmakers in 2006.

  • Former Gov. Tom Vilsack, now serving as U.S. Agriculture Secretary, signed the goal-setting bill, which was promoted as the most aggressive renewable fuels standard in the nation and received nearly unanimous support in the House and Senate.
  • Retail tax credits and millions of dollars were dedicated to offset infrastructure costs for retailers to bring biodiesel blends to consumers.

Yes, but: The tax credits were phased out as was intended in the original bill. While they "helped move the needle, they didn’t move it as far as we’d like," Monte Shaw, director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) told Axios.

  • Only about 10% of Iowa gas stations currently offer E15, a high-octane ethanol blend that costs less than regular unleaded.

What’s next: Some biofuels advocates are pushing for new E15 standards that would require many Iowa gasoline retailers to sell it and provide new financial incentives for them to do so.

  • A bill is pending in the Iowa legislature, but its chances of advancing this late in the session are iffy, Shaw said.
  • Efforts to expand federal renewable fuel standards to make ethanol blends more widely available to consumers are ongoing, Grant Menke of the Iowa Corn Growers Association said.
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Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
May 11, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa struggles with worker shortage despite uptick in unemployment

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There's no doubt you've stumbled across a "Now Hiring" sign at the drive-thru or grocery store.

  • Like the rest of the U.S., Iowa employers say there's a shortage of available employees in industries like construction and hospitality as the economy picks back up.

Why it matters: The inability to fill open jobs has an immediate impact on our everyday lives, like long waits at our favorite restaurants.

  • Long-term though, it slows our economic recovery and stifles business expansions.

Soaring crop prices set off inflation fears

Expand chart
S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Crop prices like corn, wheat and soybeans have hit highs not seen in almost a decade. And they’re likely to stay that way for a while, sparking jitters over food inflation.

Why it matters: Higher prices are a boon for farmers following years in the doldrums — and after supply chain chaos early in the pandemic. But they will bleed through to consumers at the grocery store and in restaurants.

Updated 35 mins ago - Science

NTSB probes crash that killed 10 in Alabama as storm lashes Southeast

A car drives in the rain in Galveston, Texas. Photo: Zeng Jingning/China News Service via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's investigating a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash in Alabama that killed 10 people, including nine children, as storms swept the Southeast.

The big picture: Saturday's crash on Interstate 65, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes," per AP.