Iowa Ag Summit rallies support for biofuels
A new report from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is taking a sharp aim at the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It says since 2007, RFS has cost American motorists $10 billion per year in extra fuel costs (above what they would have paid if they had purchased gasoline alone).
At the recent Iowa Ag Summit, elected officials, public policy leaders and presidential hopefuls were asked where they stood on the RFS.
America needs to “fuel itself, feed itself and fight for itself,” said Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor. “RFS is just one component of the bigger picture of energy independence and energy security.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to press the Environmental Protection Agency to follow through with the requirement to announce blend levels in advance, which it hasn’t done for 2014, 2015 and 2016. There needs to be certainty in the blend levels, he noted, so farmers know what to expect when they’re trying to decide what crops to plant.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t want Washington, D.C., to make the decision. “I think this is more of a state issue than a national issue,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas supports biofuels but believes demand will continue without the federal mandate in place. “When it comes to energy, I think we should have an all-of-the above approach but it should be driven by the market,” he said.
Former Florida governor, Jeb Bush prefers a market driven by supply and demand. “Whether it’s ethanol or any other renewable fuel, the markets are going to have to decide this,” he said. “At some point, we do see a reduction of the RFS need because ethanol will be a valuable part of our country.”
“[It’s] one thing to show how efficient ethanol has become, how important it is from the standpoint to improve octane ratings,” said Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. “It creates jobs in small-town and rural America where people are hurting.”
Approximately 400,000 jobs depend on ethanol. “We can build energy. We can build fuel with Iowa corn,” said Patty Judge, former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “Gosh, that would be ridiculous to go back 20 years in time.”
As politics heat up in the race for 2016, the debate is far from over.