(The Center Square) – Retail gas stations will receive millions in tax credits for selling higher ethanol blend gasoline under a bill from the Missouri legislature.
HB1695, sponsored by Rep. Kurtis Gregory, R-Marshall, creates a 5-cent-per-gallon incentive for gas stations to sell gasoline containing at least 15 percent ethanol—E15. Currently, all gasoline sold in Missouri must contain 10% ethanol.
Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum & Convenience Association, said his members would support the legislation if some definitions and terms were clarified in the bill.
“For decades, my association has opposed fuel mandates,” Leone said. “We have battled these tooth and nail over the years. This year, we were thrilled that some of the proponents of the mandate are turning to incentives. »
The bill requires fuel to be dispensed by metered pumps at a gas station. Leone testified that the bill should include distributors with tank trucks to deliver E15 to farms or construction sites to fill tanks and equipment.
“It’s the end user, but that doesn’t happen at a gas station,” Leone said. “These people also want to be able to take advantage of credit.”
The bill would take effect on January 1, 2023 and end on December 31, 2028, unless reauthorized by the legislature. The tax credit would be deducted from the retailer’s state income tax. Tax credits cannot be transferred, sold or assigned under the legislation. If the tax credit exceeds the tax payable by the taxpayer’s State, the difference is not refundable but can be carried forward to one of the following five tax years. The tax credit will be capped at $5 million.
Gregory, who served on the board of the Missouri Corn Growers Association before being elected to the House, testified that eliminating 5% of the oil in gasoline is better for the environment. He said the amount reduced the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and replaced it with an agricultural product from Missouri.
Steve Murphy, president of the Missouri Renewable Fuels Association, said the Iowa legislature is considering a 9-cent-per-gallon ethanol incentive and Minnesota lawmakers are proposing E15 as the state’s standard fuel.
“It’s a very popular issue right now in the Midwest where corn is big business and generates a lot of economic activity,” Murphy said. “The E15 obviously has a rural advantage, but there’s a lot of incentive for urban areas because of the (lower) emissions.”
Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico, a committee member, said Russia’s possible invasion of Ukraine and other foreign diplomatic challenges make ethanol production a national defense issue in addition to a environmental concern.
“I think we have to think about being energy self-sufficient and be ready to give energy to many other countries,” Rep. Haden said.
Gregory pointed to the quality of the blend for automobiles, testifying that NASCAR and Indy 500 race cars use E15 or higher blends.
“We’re looking at this to expand the market because it’s still quite hard to find,” Gregory said. “I know I only have one pump at Marshall that offers it. … We’re trying to expand that market for cleaner burning, higher octane fuel in the market. On average, it’s 3 to 10 cents cheaper per gallon.
No one testified against the bill and committee members representing rural areas warmly welcomed the program. Representative Gregory testified that 20% of corn in Missouri is used for ethanol. Missouri ethanol plants produce about 300 million gallons of fuel annually, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
Gregory reminded the committee that agriculture is the state’s largest industry. He used a Texas-oil analogy to express his disappointment with the legislature’s failure to pass farm bills last year.
“It was like being in Texas and absolutely nothing was happening (legally) for the oil industry — saying you don’t matter,” Rep. Gregory said. “Gas is important there and agriculture is important here.”