Iowa Governor to Lobby EPA on Cutbacks to Corn Ethanol

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If at first you don’t succeed, lobby a different federal agency.

That seems to be the approach Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is taking in his defense of the renewable-fuel standard. The five-term corn-country executive will testify Thursday at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on its proposed reductions to the corn ethanol mandate and some other renewable fuels, The Des Moines Register reports.

It’s not his first Beltway visit in defense of the RFS. In late October, Branstad met with administration officials from the Office of Management and Budget, which was then reviewing 2014 RFS levels. His pleas evidently went unheard, as EPA announced reduced levels for many renewable fuels last month. Among the officials Branstad met with was Dan Utech, who has since been named President Obama’s top climate and energy adviser.

While Branstad’s first pitch didn’t sway EPA’s initial level-setting, it’s unlikely his follow-up appeals during the mandate’s public comment period will cause the agency to rethink its ruling. But it can’t hurt, as the GOP governor prepares to run for a sixth term, to let his corn-producing constituents see him as the face of opposition to the Obama administration’s cutbacks to corn ethanol. In Iowa, RFS support is almost a political necessity, as even small-government conservatives such as Republican Rep. Steve King have become outspoken defenders of the mandate.