Iowa governor makes case to Washington on ethanol requirements

Source: by Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad made an aggressive push last week to defend the country’s ethanol policy during three calls with members of the Obama administration as the White House considers making changes to the controversial mandate for 2014.

Government records show Branstad talked on Oct. 30 with three Obama administration officials, including Dan Utech, a deputy director for energy and climate change at the White House, and staff from the Office of Management and Budget. The OMB, the agency charged with reviewing White House policies, is studying the proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard that dictates how much ethanol must be blended into the country’s motor fuel.

Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s communications director, said the governor also spoke last week with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “underscore the importance” of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The mandate, created in 2005 and expanded two years later by Congress, requires refiners to buy alternative fuels made from corn, soybeans and other products in order to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy. It has come under fire from oil groups, restaurants and livestock organizations that have called the mandate outdated and pressed Congress to roll back or repeal it.

“The governor does not think we should backtrack on this issue, and he will continue fighting for more renewable fuels and better options for consumers,” Albrecht said. “The EPA needs to stand against big oil’s demands, and stand up for the hard-working individuals who are building our rural economies.”