Branstad: I’ll fight for ethanol

Source: Written by Jason Noble, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014

‘Iowans care deeply’ about preserving blend mandate, he warns presidential aspirants

Terry Branstad, Republican candidate for governor

 Terry Branstad

Gov. Terry Branstad on Wednesday promised a spirited fight to preserve the federal renewable fuel standard, the mandate for the inclusion of corn-based ethanol in gasoline that has driven a decade-long boom in the state’s agriculture industry.

Reducing the mandate, known by the acronym RFS, could send Midwestern economies into a “tailspin,” Branstad warned, costing jobs and perhaps subjecting farmers to hardship unseen since the 1980s.

“I don’t want to be alarmist about this, but I was governor during the farm crisis of the ’80s and I don’t want to revisit those bad old days,” Branstad said.

His comments, in which he raised his voice and spoke more forcefully than on any other issue, came during an extended question-and-answer session with members of the media from across the state on Wednesday, just days before the 2014 legislative session is to convene.

Branstad promised efforts to bring together Midwestern governors, as well as Iowa’s congressional delegation, to support the RFS going forward and reject draft EPA rules that would reduce the legally required amount of renewable fuels to be blended to between 15 billion and 15.5 billion gallons from more than 18 billion gallons.

He’ll also ask the state House and Senate to pass resolutions supporting the RFS.

Branstad suggested, too, that the issue could have political ramifications in the 2016 presidential contest that will begin in Iowa.

“We want to make it clear to anybody that’s looking at national office: This is an issue that Iowans care deeply about,” he said, very clearly alluding to the presidential candidates who will compete in the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

The proposed reduction in the RFS mandate is an example of the EPA “kowtowing” to the oil industry, which is interested only in increasing its profits by eliminating competition from renewable fuels, the governor said.

Branstad also noted that he is an investor in an ethanol plant, which could be affected by reduced demand if the mandate is cut.