Sen. Cruz pressed to back ethanol, acknowledge oil subsidies

Source: By Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, April 13, 2015

Ethanol supporters from Iowa are pressing presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz to support an ethanol mandate requiring the largely corn-based fuel to be included into the country’s motor fuel supply.

In a letter Wednesday, America’s Renewable Future said the Texas Republican is wrong when he says subsidies do not exist for the oil industry. Cruz has said he supports ethanol but opposes the blending mandate known as the Renewable Fuel Standard because there is enough demand for the fuel without the federal government’s involvement.

“I don’t think Washington should be picking winners and losers,” Cruz said at the Iowa Ag Summit last month.

Iowa produced a record 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol last year – about 27 percent of country’s production, and more than any other state. Lawmakers in Washington have proposed legislation to roll back or end the existing Renewable Fuel Standard put in place by Congress in 2007, but those efforts have failed to gain traction.

“We’re writing to let you in on the truth about oil that Iowans have known for a long time: Thanks to their lobbyists, oil companies are longstanding beneficiaries and supporters of numerous government subsidies that amount to nearly half a trillion dollars over the last century,” America’s Renewable Future said in its letter.

The nonprofit political organization cited one tax break signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. The group estimated the oil industry will receive $165 billion in subsidies and tax breaks during the next decade.

“Renewable fuel is helping America end the oil industry’s monopoly, creating competition in the marketplace and reducing America’s reliance on oil from hostile foreign regions,” the letter said.

Most Republicans looking at a presidential run in 2016 declared their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard at the ag summit last month.

Former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, the only Democrat to speak at the summit, said she disagreed with all the other speakers on almost every topic — except for those who called for keeping the federal ethanol mandate intact.

America’s Renewable Future is a coalition committed to pushing presidential candidates to support the Renewable Fuel Standard.