Iowa voters prefer pro-RFS White House contenders — poll

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015

Both Democrats and Republicans in Iowa are likely to support a presidential candidate who backs the renewable fuel standard (RFS), the nation’s main biofuel policy, according to a new poll.

The poll released yesterday by DuPont Co. and America’s Renewable Future found that 61 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats in Iowa were likely to support a pro-RFS presidential candidate.

The poll also found that 84 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats think the RFS is a good idea for Iowa, the nation’s top ethanol-producing state. Enacted by Congress in 2007, the RFS requires refiners to use increasing amounts of ethanol and advanced biofuels.

Selzer & Company Inc. conducted the survey in late September of 400 Iowa voters who are likely to attend the Republican presidential caucus and 405 voters likely to attend the Democratic counterpart. The margin of error for each partisan subset was 4.9 points.

The survey comes as DuPont next week is planning a grand-opening celebration of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. The facility will convert corn crop residues into 30 million gallons of ethanol a year at maximum capacity.

Backed by Iowa renewable fuels producers and Gov. Terry Branstad (R), the America’s Renewable Future coalition formed this year with the goal of making the RFS a wedge issue in the state’s presidential caucuses.

This week, the bipartisan Congressional Biofuels Caucus — which includes Iowa’s congressional delegation — wrote U.S. EPA in support of the RFS.

The caucus, which is composed of 17 Democratic and Republican House members from the Midwest, urged EPA to set more robust annual targets for ethanol and advanced biofuels compared with a proposal earlier this year.

The lawmakers say that EPA is not following Congress’ intent in the proposal. EPA called for year-by-year increases in renewable fuels through 2016, but its mandates for refiners fell short of the levels written into the 2007 statute.

“It would be a thumb in the eye to Iowa’s farmers if the EPA continues to ignore federal statute and sides with Big Oil over rural communities,” Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) said in a statement.