Clinton campaign says it isn’t weighing ethanol mandate change

Source: By Timothy Cama, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing back on a report that she’s considering changing the federal ethanol mandate.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Clinton aides met with California officials to discuss how the ethanol blending mandate could be changed, possibly into a requirement to use fuels that emit less carbon dioxide when burned than traditional gasoline or diesel.

The Democratic nominee’s presidential campaign said that aides met with California regulators to learn about the state’s low-carbon fuel standard, but Clinton does not want to change the federal program known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“As Hillary Clinton said repeatedly during the primary, she is committed to getting the RFS back on track and making sure the U.S. remains a leader in advanced biofuels,” spokesman Tyrone Gayle said.

“While we have engaged a wide range of stakeholders and experts throughout the campaign on biofuels and other issues, we do not support replacing the RFS with a national low-carbon fuel standard.”

The ethanol mandate has become a political third rail, since it has strong support in Iowa, the first state to hold a nominating contest in every presidential election cycle.

Any signs of weakness on ethanol meet resistance from the state’s powerful corn industry, fearing that a major use for their product would be repealed. Nonetheless, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) favors phasing the program out, and he won the GOP caucus in Iowa this year.

The mandate requires fuel refiners to blend a certain amount of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels into their fossil fuels every year.

Clinton voted against the 2005 law that created the ethanol mandate when she was in the Senate.

But she changed her tune when she first ran for president in 2008. She said again last year that she supports the program but wants to put it “back on track” and to better encourage the use of advanced biofuels.