Iowa governor blasts EPA on ethanol mandate

Source: Donnelle Eller, The Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014

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DES MOINES, Iowa — EPA delays in setting the Renewable Fuel Standard are contributing to weaker corn prices for farmers and costing manufacturing jobs, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday.

“Farmers aren’t buying equipment and John Deere is laying people off. What EPA has done is not only damage farm income but cost us jobs in farm machinery and manufacturing,” Branstad told reporters at the Farm Progress Show near Boone.

In November, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing ethanol produced from corn in 2014 to 13.01 billion gallons from 14.4 billion gallons initially required by Congress. The 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard requires refiners to buy alternative fuels made from corn, soybeans and other products to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy.

“I feel like they’re playing politics instead of doing what’s right for America, and doing what’s right for reducing our dependency on foreign oil, and improving farm income and creating jobs,” he said.

“They put out this garbage, when the price of corn was $7-$8, that it drove up the price of food. Well, have you seen the price of food go down?” he said. “The price of corn is down to $3.50 a bushel, and the price of food hasn’t gone down at all.”

Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, said he’s hopeful that the EPA won’t cut quite as much in the Renewable Fuel Standard as it initially proposed last winter.

“I hear it will be better than what EPA initially announced, but it’s not going to be as good under the original RFS,” Northey told reporters at the show.

Iowa should be expanding its ethanol production, given low prices for corn, but instead companies are hesitant to invest, Northey said.

“It’s taken away that optimism that was there,” especially for expansion of the next generation of ethanol, such as cellulosic ethanol. It uses corn stover instead of corn to make the alternative fuel.

“Without a green light from EPA, I don’t think we’ll see that investment in technology and improved efficiencies,” he said.

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