New Campaign to Urge 2016 Caucus Candidates to Support Renewable Fuels

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Governor Terry Branstad announced Thursday a new campaign promoting the Renewable Fuel Standard, aimed at potential presidential nominees visiting Iowa during the caucus season.

"Americans of both political parties know that a robust Renewable Fuel Standard creates jobs in America, reduces our dependency on foreign oil and offers more consumer choice," said Governor Branstad. "The last time there was a wide-open race for the presidential nomination in both parties was 2007, just as the RFS was beginning to take effect. Since then, Iowa has built 17 new bio-refineries, doubled ethanol production, tripled biodiesel production, and launched commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol with three brand-new facilities. It's a broad-based industry that benefits workers, families and communities in all 99 counties."

The multimillion-dollar campaign, dubbed America's Renewable Future, will be co-chaired by former State Representative Annette Sweeney (R) and former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge (D), as well as Iowa renewable fuels industry leader Bill Couser. It will be financed by a partnership including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. The coalition seeks to educate presidential candidates visiting Iowa on the benefits of the Renewable Fuel Standard, asking each to take a stand on the issue, as well as educate Iowa caucus-goers in both parties about which candidates support it.

The Renewable Fuel Standard program originated as a mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007, requiring renewable fuels - like ethanol and biodiesel - to be blended into transportation fuel by an increasing amount each year. By 2022, the program expects to have blended 36 billion gallons, and each renewable fuel category within the program must emit lower levels of greenhouse gases than the petroleum fuel it replaces.

Governor Branstad's message Thursday was simple: Candidates who don't support the Renewable Fuel Standard in the Iowa caucuses don't have a history of winning the state. In 2012, both Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum favored it and finished at the top of the Iowa caucuses, while those who did not - like Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann - found themselves at the end of the pack. Similarly in 2008, the Republican nominee for president, John McCain, denounced ethanol as a practical source of fuel, while Barack Obama praised it,  securing Iowa in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Asked if whether candidates who did not support the Renewable Fuel Standard - like Governor Rick Perry from oil-rich Texas - were simply out of luck in the Iowa caucuses, Governor Branstad said he would not "pre-judge any of the candidates on their current positions," adding he believes the campaign has the ability to sway candidates' minds.

America's Renewable Future will have one of its first chances at pushing the Renewable Fuel Standard onto 2016 hopefuls in March, when the first-ever Iowa Agriculture Summit will be held in Des Moines, where 23 of the nation's top-contenders for the White House on both sides of the aisle are invited.



  • John Smith

    Where is the multimillion dollar budget coming from? The answer to that question would seem like a rather important aspect of this story.

    • Reid Chandler

      A partnership including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, and Growth Iowa, among others, are financing the campaign. I’ve revised the article to include this information.

    • John Smith

      Sorry, maybe I should be more explicit in my question: Where does the funding provided by the listed groups originate?

      • John Smith

        Thank you, I recognize the two trade associations and expect their funding to originate with corn growers and corn processors, ethanol producers and perhaps some bio-diesel interests. “Growth Iowa”, though, is unfamiliar. And, it is apparently unfamiliar to Google as well. Is this a new organization, or perhaps a new name for an existing one?

        Please forgive the questions, but when I hear of new political initiatives, I find that understanding the funding of them can be important in understanding their purpose for existing. Particularly considering the sheer amounts of dollars involved.

      • Reid Chandler

        John, no problem on the questions. Happy to clarify. Actually, it’s not you that’s the problem searching “Growth Iowa.” I mis-typed, the organization is called “Growth Energy.” Apologies for the confusion – here is their website:

        I’ve corrected that in the article, as well. Hope this helps!

      • iamjoespinkyfinger

        What Mr. Chandler is saying is that they’re getting their money from the only people who benefit from ethanol, which of course is nothing but another way to force the tax payers to compensate farmers for their subsidy driven overproduction.

      • John Smith

        Actually, Mr. FINGER, this seems to me to be pretty much the sort of politics the country should strive for for: Large groups with common interests lobbying for what they want to see government do.

        Say, as opposed to small groups of wealthy individuals paying to elect members of Congress to do their bidding.

  • M

    I have no issued with Ethanol AS LONG AS “I” HAVE THE CHOICE. I have a vehicle that Ethanol is NOT recommended in, to use it would damage my seals and void any warranties. PREMIUM GAS , means just thet PREMIUM “GAS” not GAS and ETHANOL!

    • John Smith

      I’m not sure I could even FIND premium gas, to be perfectly honest. Certainly not the octane rating that premium gas used to be, anyway.

      I have also noted that a great deal of lawn equipment carbs these days are not designed for ethanol use. Ethanol won’t hurt them, they’re just designed for fuel with a certain energy density per unit of volume, and now come with precious few adjustments that used to be useful for compensation.

      All the cars I’ve owned, though, for at least three decades, have worked just fine with ethanol-blended gasoline, regardless of their country of origin.

      • a farmer

        To start,1/2 my income is from corn.
        Ethanol is a looser,dust to dust. Do the mileage math and it is always cost less per mile to pay the extra for “real” gasoline.
        The local pipeline terminal receives two grades of gas. 84 octane and 91 octane. 84 octane is unusable till it is blended with either ethanol or premium to make 87 octane in either 10% ethanol or clear(no ethanol). 89 octane does not exist in this area because stations do not have the necessary storage tanks for the additional grade or do not have blender pumps(that are very expensive). Premium fuel comes in two grades. 91 octane that is pure and 93 octane that is 10% ethanol. It’s not that hard to find stations that handle it, but they are getting few and farther between but will never disappear in the near future.Premium tanks were changed over to diesel tanks at stations that did not have an extra tank for all separate grades.
        I have spent over $800.00 in repairs directly related to 10% ethanol corrosion and that is exactly why the pipelines can not carry ethanol.
        How is ethanol produced? Diesel planting equipment,diesel harvesting equipment. Diesel trucks hauling the corn to plants. Diesel trucks and trains delivering the ethanol. I’d like to see the honest math of what % of diesel fuel is used in making the 10% ethanol fuel delivered to the stations. Nothing but a well running economic ponzi scheme.

      • John Smith

        Well, actually, A FARMER, there are several studies showing that the output energy from ethanol production EXCEEDS the input energy. There have been for many years. Even ones by various Federal government departments.

        Hint: The ones sponsored by oil companies tend to include such things as the breakfast the farmer had before doing field work as part of the “inputs”. Because, as I’m sure you know, A FARMER doesn’t eat breakfast unless he is going out to produce “ethanol corn”. Oh, and they tend to include anecdotal “evidence”, like stories about repairs and such.

        But, when it’s all said and done, each and every gallon of motor fuel produced in the US from renewable sources is ONE LESS gallon that is dependent on the finite resource of petroleum. And, since that makes the US more secure in the world, I would say it’s worth doing even if it wasn’t the net energy gain that it is.

  • Joel

    More propaganda from the corn lobby and both major parties. The environmental cost of producing ethanol alone, plus having to ship it via rail or road as opposed to pipelines far outweighs any “clean” burning of ethanol. All vehicles, new or old are subject to the corrosion caused by ethanol and mowers and power tools will be destroyed with very little ethanol use. Unlike many states, at least Iowa still allows a choice between real gasoline and ethanol, although regular gas is still over 20 cents higher. And the worst part, ethanol is indirectly subsidized by the government and people in the Midwest have swallowed the propaganda hook line and sinker.

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