Branstad, others to host Des Moines hearing on biofuels proposal

Source: Written by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to attend, participate

The public hearing in Iowa will be held Jan. 23 at the Hall of Laureates, 100 Locust St., Des Moines, with comments beginning at 8:30 a.m. Individuals interested in commenting should contact Julie Vande Hoef, Branstad’s policy adviser, at by 9 a.m. Jan. 21.

Gov. Terry Branstad and other Midwestern leaders say they will hold a public hearing Jan. 23 in Des Moines on a proposal to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the EPA’s Gina McCarthy and the White House rejected a request to host it.

Branstad, along with Iowa’s congressional delegation, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, wrote to Vilsack; McCarthy, the U.S. Environmental Protection administrator; and President Barack Obama in December, asking them to hold a field hearing in Iowa on a proposal to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard so rural Americans would have a chance to comment.

In November, the EPA said it planned to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply this year, a recommendation that has angered renewable fuel proponents.

Branstad and other leaders say the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped create rural jobs, helped support rural communities and helped boost prices for corn and soybeans. Governors from Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota joined Branstad last month in writing U.S. leaders to reconsider cutting the mandate.

“Iowans, and Midwesterners, deserve the opportunity to make the case for their futures,” Branstad said in a news release. “We believe it is necessary to host this public hearing for Iowans and other Midwesterners to enable them to more easily provide comments on the EPA’s proposal, which could cost nearly 45,000 jobs, have a negative ripple effect through the U.S. economy and would hinder consumer choice at the pump.”

The EPA held a public hearing last month on the proposal near Washington, D.C.

Branstad said the mandate has lowered fuel costs and improved consumer choices at the pump, diversified the U.S. energy portfolio, and reduced harmful transportation emissions.

“It is important for federal leaders to gain fresh perspective that is not clouded by the perpetual politics of Washington, D.C.,” Branstad said. “Big Oil’s army of D.C. lobbyists has clouded the debate on the value of renewable fuels to our nation’s energy, economic and national security. This hearing aims to clear the air and give citizens of the heartland the opportunity to amplify their voice in this important federal policy discussion.”