Branstad: EPA rule change would devastate Iowa economy

Source: by Matthew Patane, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks during the "Hearing in the Heartland" event Thursday, Jan. 23. (Matthew Patane/The Register)

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks during the “Hearing in the Heartland” event Thursday, Jan. 23. (Matthew Patane/The Register)

Gov. Terry Branstad began a daylong event for supporters of the renewable fuel standard by saying a proposed rule change would have a “devastating effect” on the Iowa economy.

Late last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed change to the renewable fuel standard, a federal rule that regulates how much ethanol and biofuels must be mixed into fuel supplies.

The proposed rule would cut the 2014 requirement to 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels, down 3 billion gallons from what Congress required in a 2007 law. Requirements for traditional biofuels, such as corn-based fuels, would be cut to 13 billion from 14.4 billion. A public comment period on the proposal will close on Jan. 28.

Officials from other Midwestern states and representatives of the ethanol and biofuel industry have all come to the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates today asking the EPA to repeal the proposed change.

Branstad criticized officials in Washington D.C. for being out of touch with rural America and not understanding how the change would affect rural economies.

“It’s estimated that the EPA proposal would cost 45,000 jobs … We’re trying to create jobs not destroy jobs in this country,” Branstad said. “I don’t think in Washington D.C. they follow the price of corn. Well, we do.”

Other speakers during the event’s morning panels echoed similar sentiments.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Ia., called the EPA proposal “illogical” and said renewable fuels are not only good for the economy, but good for consumers and the nation’s independence from foreign oil.

Monte Shaw, the executive director of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said the EPA rule “is a perfect example of an out-of-touch, broken Washington, DC.”

“The proposal was clearly a political decision made in the Obama White House driven by the false fear of higher gasoline prices,” Shaw said in a prepared statement.