Presidential Campaigns Discuss Renewable Fuels

12:00AM Oct 21, 2008
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Sara Muri, Top Producer Business & Crops Online Editor
Representatives from the McCain and Obama campaigns spoke with Mike Adams, host of AgriTalk on the many issues surrounding renewable fuels. The interviews were completed and aired on AgriTalk in the last two weeks.
Jim Moseley, former deputy USDA secretary and a member of the McCain/Palin farm and ranch team spoke on behalf of Sen. McCain, while Heather Zichal, the policy director for energy, environment and agriculture for the Obama campaign represented Sen. Obama.
You can read the complete transcripts of both interviews:
Here are some of the highlights:
Obama: Reducing foreign oil dependence
Mike Adams: Both campaigns have stated, as I mentioned earlier, the need to lessen our dependence on imported oil. Now according to the Energy Information Administration our production of 585,000 barrels of ethanol a day is helping reduce America's oil imports by some 500,000 barrels per day. Does Senator Obama agree that America's production of ethanol is an important component of reducing foreign oil dependence?
Heather Zichal: Yes; our biofuels program is already reducing our dependence on imported oil. About seven percent of our transportation fuel supply comes from biofuels. In fact in 2007, our biofuels program displaced 228 million barrels of oil and reduced our gas bill to OPEC and other foreign suppliers by over $16 billion. I think from Senator Obama's perspective as we continue to ramp up the production of biofuels we have the potential to replace an even greater amount of imported oil and that's going to improve our flexibility of our foreign policy and it's important that the public policies be kept in place that are moving us towards this outcome.
McCain: Eliminating ethanol and oil industry subsidies
Mike Adams: So are you saying then if he's going to pursue, or as president he would pursue a course of eliminating subsidies for ethanol that he would also pursue that same approach to the oil industry and work to remove any subsidies or support their getting?
Jim Moseley: Yes, and he's made that statement very clearly. I had hoped that he would make that statement last night. Obviously he didn't include in that in his list, but he has made that statement that these price support subsidies across the board, no matter where you use them and for what reason you use them, they're market distorting.
We in agriculture understand that. That's the reason why we're having such great difficulties in the trade talks and the DOHA round.
So there's that understanding that when you start to incentivize that price you really are creating a limitation on the industry because you're getting the supply, but that doesn't do anything to really force the price unless the price just continues to drop and drop and drop and so it becomes the absolute cheapest alternative.
We in agriculture know that we're not really interested in providing the cheapest alternative out there in the commodities and the products that we produce for the market.
Read the full interviews:
The Renewable Fuels Association worked with AgriTalk and Adams to facilitate this discussion on the positions of each presidential campaign with respect to ethanol and renewable fuels.

You can e-mail Sara Muri at [email protected].