Branstad, five other governors lobby president for higher ethanol mandate

Source: by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013

Six Midwestern governors sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which his administration has proposed scaling back in 2014.

In a letter to the president, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Gov. Terry Branstad and five other governors argue that the ethanol standard diversifies America’s energy portfolio, gives consumers choices at the pump, supports economic development in rural communities and reduces harmful emissions across the nation.

In addition to Branstad, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Dugaard, and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed the letter. All but Dayton are Republicans.

In the letter, the governors point to an Iowa State University estimate that says “corn prices alone could drop 19 cents per bushel based on the proposed rule, which could bring corn prices below the cost of production for many farmers. The proposed EPA rule could also cause a ripple effect on agri-business, our communities, and the entire economy.”

The governors asks the Obama administration to use its regulatory authority to support the growing renewable fuels industry. “Specifically, we hope that you will encourage the EPA to increase the biodiesel volume to reflect current production levels, modify the cellulosic target to match production expectations, and reinstate the statutory conventional renewable fuel target since there is clearly no domestic supply shortage,” the state leaders wrote.

In November, the EPA proposed cutting by 3 billion gallons the amount of renewable fuels that would be blended into the U.S. fuel supply next year. It included reducing corn-based ethanol use by about 1.4 billion gallons.

And renewable fuel supporters say the proposal freezes the biodiesel level at 1.28 billion gallons, “despite the fact the biodiesel industry is currently operating at an annualized rate of 2 billion gallons.” Iowa has two cellulosic plants now under construction, one in Emmetsburg and one outside Nevada.