Anti-ethanol group set to go on the air in Iowa

Source: By Devin Henry, The Hill • Posted: Monday, January 25, 2016

A group opposed to the federal ethanol mandate is taking its message to Iowa, the nation’s leading ethanol producer.

The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), a D.C.-based free market group, will begin airing ads in Iowa next week warning about the environmental impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The seven-figure buy is part of a national effort to raise questions about the environmental side effects of the RFS and its impact on food prices.

The group went on the air in several states last year, including Indiana and Ohio — a notable move, given that both states are in the top 10 nationally in ethanol production.

But Iowa, an agriculture-heavy state, leads the nation in ethanol production, and the state’s voters routinely back supporters of the RFS in their first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, which take place Feb. 1.

The group published a poll Friday questioning the issue’s reach in the state. According to the survey, most Iowans don’t consider the ethanol mandate a top-three issue, and half of the state’s voters said they do not care much or at all about the RFS.

“For as long as anyone can remember, conventional political wisdom dictated that candidates had no choice but to support ever-expanding corn ethanol mandates to win in Iowa,” said David Banks, executive vice president of ACCF.

“Unfortunately, they forgot to ask actual Iowans what they thought about it. As this polling makes clear, not only aren’t folks in the nation’s largest corn-producing state paying particularly close attention to the back-and-forth over the RFS, they’re definitely not using it as some sort of litmus test in determining who to vote for.”

Regardless, politicians in Iowa have engaged in ethanol politics so far this cycle.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has been hit hard by ethanol groups in the state for his plan to phase out the RFS, and Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said the week that voters shouldn’t support Cruz because of his position on ethanol.