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.