Campaign aims to spotlight RFS in Iowa caucuses 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015

Ethanol proponents yesterday launched a campaign to rally support for the renewable fuel standard ahead of the 2016 Iowa presidential caucuses.

The “America’s Renewable Future” campaign will comprise an expansive field organization in Iowa, advertising, public opinion research, and digital and social media outreach, according to campaign operatives. The goal is to educate Democratic and Republican 2016 presidential contenders and caucusgoers “about the remarkable success of the RFS” and ethanol’s contribution to local economies in the heartland.

Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, a lead supporter of the campaign, called it a “strong bipartisan effort being made to educate people who come to Iowa and presidential candidates.”

Along with Branstad, supporters include Democratic Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and national ethanol group Growth Energy. Iowa political operatives Eric Branstad — the governor’s son — and Derek Eadon have been tapped to run the campaign.

Former Iowa state Rep. Annette Sweeney (R) and former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) will serve as the campaign’s co-chairwomen.

Eric Branstad said the supporting groups had contributed “millions” toward the effort but did not give specifics on the cost of the campaign.

He said the effort would be managed as if the RFS were a candidate running for president.

“We are running it, and we’re putting it together like a presidential campaign. We’re going to have a similar-looking staff, we’re going to be traveling the state, we’re going to be talking to people,” Branstad said.

The campaign comes amid a prolonged push by opponents of ethanol in Washington, D.C., to overturn or scale back the renewable fuel standard, which Congress passed into law in 2007 to increase the use of conventional ethanol and spur the development of advanced biofuels.