Iowa House and Senate approve resolutions supporting renewable fuel standard

Source: by Jason Noble, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014

The Iowa House and Senate are on record in support of the renewable fuel standard.

Lawmakers from both chambers unanimously approved a resolution on Thursday calling on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to abandon a proposed rule that would reduce a mandate for the production of fuel from renewable sources.

The standard, known by the acronym RFS, has been a boon to Iowa’s agricultural economy and spurred substantial development in the state’s ethanol industry. Many worry lowering the federal mandate could harm that growth.

Gov. Terry Branstad called on the Legislature to express its support for the RFS. The resolution – although nonbinding and without the force of law – does that.

“What it does is show solidarity,” said Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “Our congressional delegation supports, the governor supports this, Secretary (of Agriculture) Northey supports it.”

Sen. Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City, spoke on the Iowa Senate floor in support of the resolution, saying that northern Iowa ethanol plants are creating clean, renewable energy while making the nation more secure and lowering the cost of fuel at the gas pump. The fact that Iowa lawmakers are taking action on the resolution during the first week of the 2014 session “makes a huge statement” about its importance to Iowa, she added.

“Oil has been heavily subsidized for more than 100 years. Ethanol has a much brighter future,” Ragan said. She asked lawmakers to oppose effort by “Big Oil” to sabotage America’s renewable fuel industry.

Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, who farms in northeast Iowa, described renewable fuels as a blessing to Iowa’s economy. He warned that the proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard would be a “monumental setback” to Iowa that would result in job losses. He said he felt a responsibility to stand up for producers and laborers in the renewable fuels industry.

“Fellow senators, I am so proud of all of you on this issue,” Zumbach said.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to President Barack Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Iowa’s congressional delegation. Read it here.

Branstad also has announced a public hearing in Iowa on the matter. That likely will be an additional outlet for state lawmakers and their constituents to make their views heard on the issue.

“We’ve sent a message now. It’s not just our federal delegation,” Grassley said. “We’re at the grassroots, we’re on the ground everyday with our constituents and I think that sends a strong message to Washington.”