Ted Cruz vouches support for biofuels

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2016

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, one of his party’s leading contenders for president, yesterday eased his long-standing criticism of the renewable fuel standard, a departure from his opposition to the biofuel mandate less than a year ago.

In comments made in Sioux Center and Cherokee, Iowa, as well as in a Des Moines Register op-ed today, Cruz sought to promote biofuels through a free-market economy.

“Although I oppose government subsidies, I am a passionate supporter of a free and fair energy marketplace,” wrote Cruz in the op-ed. “My view on energy is simple: We should pursue an ‘all of the above’ policy. We should embrace all of the energy resources with which God has blessed America: oil and gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and biofuels and ethanol.”

Cruz added that demand for ethanol would continue absent the RFS and that federal antitrust laws would help even the playing field in the energy market.

During a town hall meeting in Cherokee, Cruz said a strong biofuel policy does not need to include a production legal mandate, like the RFS’s requirement to boost biofuels output to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022.

The federal government and Democratic lobbyists are “trying to convince you that a mandate is the way to go,” Cruz told the crowd, calling supporters of the law part of the “Washington cartel.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an ardent supporter of biofuels, joined Cruz on the campaign trail yesterday. Standards have long been a political hot potato in the agriculture-rich state.

At a summit last March in Iowa alongside other GOP presidential candidates, Cruz said he could not support the RFS, acknowledging that his opinion would not fly well in the Hawkeye State.

“I recognize that this is a gathering of a lot of folks who the answer you’d like me to give is, ‘I’m for the RFS, darn it,'” Cruz said. “That’d be the easy thing to do” (E&E Daily, March 9, 2015).

America’s Renewable Future, a pro-biofuel coalition that is pushing presidential candidates to support the RFS, has pushed Cruz to change his position. The organization gave him a bad grade on an RFS report card issued last fall, along with neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has since dropped out of the race (Greenwire, Nov. 10, 2015).

“Farmers and rural communities across Iowa are going to be encouraged by Sen. Cruz’s remarks. He is clearly listening to the people of Iowa and understands the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to America’s economy and energy independence, as he started the caucus process calling for immediate repeal. While not perfect, this is a big step forward by Sen. Cruz,” ARF State Director Eric Branstad said in a statement.