Report: Clinton talking about RFS alternative

Source: By Ed Tibetts, Quad-City Times • Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016

A new report saying that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has talked with California officials about how the Renewable Fuel Standard might be revamped is drawing criticism from a top Republican in Iowa.

The Clinton campaign said Wednesday, however, that while the RFS, which heavily utilizes corn-based ethanol, needs to be put “back on track,” she does not support replacing it with what is called a low-carbon fuel standard.

Reuters on Wednesday reported that Clinton advisers have contacted the California Air Resources Board to discuss whether the state’s market-based Low Carbon Fuel Standard could be applied at the national level to replace or augment the Renewable Fuel Standard. The article cited as a source officials with the state air resources board.

The report prompted a response Wednesday from U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who called the RFS a “tremendous success” and warned against changes.

“A low carbon fuel standard, which exists in California, is an invention of those who belittle the carbon benefit of traditional corn ethanol, using a scientifically questionable rationale,” Grassley said in a statement. “Any proposal that opens up or undermines the RFS and results in less ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels is a non-starter with those of us who understand the value of renewable fuels and the potential for industry innovation to continue indefinitely.”

Iowa is a key battleground state in the fall presidential election and support for energy incentives, whether they’re for biofuels or wind energy, have often been at issue in political campaigns.

The RFS, which was created by Congress a decade ago, then expanded, requires that a certain amount of renewable fuels be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. By 2020, the goal is to use 36 billion gallons.

The oil industry has pushed the Obama administration to back off the authorized levels, citing less demand for gasoline and slow development of advanced biofuels. Corn growers and Iowa politicians have pushed back, urging the Obama administration to stick to levels recommended in the law.

Clinton has said that the RFS still can be a powerful tool in advancing renewable fuels but that changes in the energy landscape shouldn’t be ignored. She authored an op-ed in the Cedar Rapids Gazette last year saying changes to the RFS should protect consumers, give investors certainty and improve access to biofuels, including E15, E85 and biodiesel blends.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the campaign said it has engaged in a wide range of discussions but it is not supporting a California-like standard at the national level as a replacement for the RFS.

“As Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly during the primary, she is committed to getting the RFS back on track and making sure the U.S. remains a leader in advanced biofuels,” the campaign said. “While we have engaged a wide range of stakeholders and experts throughout the campaign on biofuels and other issues, we do not support replacing the RFS with a national low-carbon fuel standard.”

California’s low carbon standard, established in 2007, requires that fuel producers lessen the carbon intensity of their products. But it gives producers the leeway to develop their own fuels or buy credits on an open market from companies that develop or sell low-carbon fuels. The standard requires a 10 percent reduction in 2020.