Perry Urges Return to “Constitutional Country”

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s main message on the soapbox yesterday at the Iowa State Fair was to get America back to a constitutional country. Citing the 10th amendment, he stressed that power and decision making needs to go back to the state and to the people, as intended by our founding fathers. Power needs to be taken away from a corrupt Washington, D.C.

Rick Perry“I’m mad as hell and I’m going to do something to change it,” said Perry if he is elected.

He also believes that educational curriculum, health insurance and transportation infrastructure should be brought back to the state and not dictated by the government. He wants to secure the border and strengthen the military. “People have belly full of decisions made 1,500 miles away instead of right here in this state,” he said. “I think it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said It’s pretty easy to farm when your plow is a pencil and you’re 1,500 miles away from the farm. And that’s what we’re seeing today as we see this continual consolidation of power in Washington, D.C.,” added Perry.

Throughout his speech he said continually said he would bring the constitution back as a guide for the country – a place we got away from and need to go back to in order to bring back strength, prosperity and the American dream to the people. The former state agriculture commissioner for Texas did not take questions nor did he address energy or ag in any detail while on stage.

Listen to why former Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be president: Rick Perry at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

Biodiesel & Bioheat ForumThe Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council is conducting a first ever event today in Mankato, MN. The event, “Biodiesel 2015 & Beyond: A Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum,” brings together biodiesel industry market developers, researchers and a number of representatives of east coast oil heat and fuel companies. The open forum is providing an educational look at what’s going on in the biodiesel industry and the work being done to develop bioheat as a good heating fuel option for the northeast.

The program was divided into two sessions moderated by Tom DiBacco, broadhead. In the first session we heard from Paul Nazzaro, Nazzaro Group, NBB Petroleum Liaison, providing an overview of biodiesel markets. He is followed by John Wenzel, FC Stone, who talked on emerging markets. Next up was John Huber, National Oilheat Research Alliance and Michael Trunzo, New England Fuel Institute who spoke about Bioheat and the evolution of Oil Heat.

Although I plan to share personal interviews with each of these presenters I thought I’d go ahead and let you listen to the first session which ends with a question and answer session.

You can listen to the session here: Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Session 1

You can find a lot of photos from the forum her: Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

Prez Candidates Tell ‘Bootstraps’ Stories

I’ve hit on a few common themes in recent posts after hearing more than a dozen soapbox speeches at the Iowa State Fair. Another one: how the presidential candidates’ parents succeeded with nothing to make life better for their children and the children pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps” to become successful.

Marco RubioThese stories were no different when Florida Senator Marcus Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich took the stage. Rubio’s parents immigrated from Cuba. He noted that America doesn’t owe him, he owes America. He also said that he wants to continue living in a country where what his parents did for him he can do for his children. But that dream, he said, is slipping away. How can the country bring back the American dream? He said the first step is addressing the economy. “We’re not just facing an economic downturn, we’re facing an economic revolution….We need to modernize economic policies so we can compete with the rest of the world.”

He also stressed the need to keep our people safe and noted that America is not fully utilizing its energy resources. Like many before him, other than a passing comment, he did not address energy, environment and agriculture.

Listen to why Florida Senator Marcus Rubio wants to be president:Marcus Rubio at the Iowa State Fair

John KasichOhio Governor John Kasich also shared his “bootstrap” story and shared other antidotes rather than really hitting hard on any particular issue. However, during the question portion he was asked his position on agriculture. He answered, “I’m for agriculture. You listen to Terry Branstad [Iowa Governor] and you think about traditional agriculture but what we really have to do is begin to think about how agriculture is going to look like in the next 20 or 25 years. I believe there are so many products that can come from traditional agriculture that can improve the lives of all Americans. And I keep pushing our people to think about that, to use our universities to do the research and to make sure that agriculture and business is closely linked together so that we can spawn new industries out of agriculture.”

“We’re lucky in Ohio,” Kasich continued. “We found natural gas and one of the great things about that is it’s allowing us to become energy independent. So we don’t have to kowtow to the Saudies anymore when it comes down to conducting our foreign policy. We need to look into the future on all of these things, on agriculture, on energy.”

Listen to why Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to be president: John Kasich at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Ethanol Industry Asks Walker to Clarify RFS Stance

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is asking Governor Walker to clarify his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard after his remarks at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Soapbox. Walker called for ethanol mandates to be phased out; yet acknowledge that the industry created around the RFS must stay in place. Click here to read about his speech.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said about ethanol and the RFS:Scott Walker on the RFS

Scott Walker-1In response, ARF responded in a statement, “Gov. Walker’s intention to phase out the RFS over the next couple of years needs clarification. It is unclear whether the governor’s time frame would mean an immediate repeal upon entering office, if elected president, whether it might mean two years from the current date, or two years from achieving full market access.

Anything short of full market access being achieved would be a catastrophic blow to America’s farmers and rural economies. It is also a blow to those who have invested into the renewable fuel industry. Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of an RFS that lasts at least until 2022. Ending the RFS prematurely will only strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, home grown renewable energy. The RFS has created jobs here in Iowa and around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

America's Renewable Future logoIf we are to take Gov. Walker’s comments to mean a two year phase out upon entering the White House, then he is opening the door to an immediate repeal and that means putting an end to over 73,000 Iowa jobs. Keeping in mind what’s already happened just this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the RFS—from over 800 layoffs at John Deere, to $13.8 billion in investment shortfalls, to lower corn prices and farmland values—such a position would be devastating.

While the governor’s position is murky, it is absolutely clear that a phase out anytime before full market access is realized would be disastrous for farmers and rural communities in Iowa and all over the United States, which were hit hardest during the recession and are finally starting to get back on their feet.

We urge Gov. Walker to clarify his position regarding the RFS and stand with our nation’s farmers for a strong RFS until full market access is a reality.”

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Republican Candidates: ‘We Can Fix America’

The battle cry of the presidential Republican candidates is to fix America through debt elimination, military strength and cooperation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham took the stage during the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox and spoke to thousands of people at the Iowa State Fair. While the crowd is supposed to be polite, manners took a back stage during Walker’s remarks especially when he said, “If we can fix a state like Wisconsin we can fix America.”

The candidates want to take the power out of Washington, D.C. and bring it back to the state houses and to the hard working people. Walker, somewhat in jest, said Washington is 68 square miles surrounded by reality. Let’s take a look at what the candidates believe is reality.

Scott WalkerScott Walker is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be reigned in. He said they are killing the farmers (he was referring to WOTUS, or the Waters of the U.S.) and is pushing for an all above energy strategy. He approved the Keystone Pipeline on the first vote and continues to do so. In terms of climate change he said that there needs to be a balance between sustainable environment and a sustainable economy. He does not support the “ethanol mandate” or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but because it is in place and there is an industry based on the legislation the country needs to support the bill. However, he is pushing for consumer choice at the pump through market access and availability at the pump for higher blends of ethanol. His state has offered grants for retail stations, especially those independently owned, to be able to put flex fuel pumps and offer additional ethanol blends.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor wants to be president here:Scott Walker at the Iowa State Fair

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham spent the majority of his time discussing his military strategy. He said there are, “Too many terrorists. Too much debt. Too few jobs.” He has been in the Air Force for 33 years and spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was in the reserves. He stressed that he is the first candidate to push to go back to war not end war. “If I’m elected we going to go back and pound them into the sand,” he said of Iraq. He did not address energy, environment or agriculture so we’ll have to continue to follow his campaign to see if and what his stance is on these issues.

Listen to why Senator Lindsey Graham wants to be president here:Lindsey Graham at the Iowa State Fair

Carly FiorinaWhile some candidates didn’t use any of their time to take questions, Carly Fiorina dedicated the majority of her time in answering questions. Like others, she believes the minimum wage should be increased but not uniformly; rather, the pay should be comparable to the cost of living which is different not only from state to state but from city to city. She too took aim at the EPA and stressed innovation rather than regulation will be more effective. And like Walker, she too doesn’t support ethanol mandates and believes they should be phased out. Needless to say, this position is not too popular in country’s largest ethanol producing state. Similar to Graham, she did not directly address agriculture or the environment.

Listen to why Carly Fiorina wants to be president here:Carly Fiorina at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Santorum, Sanders Miss Energy Boat, Chafee Pro Hydro

There are a lot of candidates vying to be the next president of the United States floating around the Iowa State Fair, but for being in Iowa, many are missing the boat on two very important issues to the state – energy and agriculture. This weekend, presidential candidates Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania (Republican); Lincoln Chafee, former Governor of Rhode Island (Democrat); and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont (Independent running for the Democratic nomination) all pushed their economic and military agendas as part of the Des Moines Register Soapbox series while laying low on other major issues. Let’s recap their remarks.

Rick SantorumRick Santorum touted his military expertise by noting that “no one in this race has the record I do on national security”. If elected, he will defeat ISIS and how he will do this is being explained in his 2020 Perfect Vision for the Future. Like George Pataki (R-NY) he wants to cut corporate taxes. Santorum was silent on renewable energy, agriculture and climate change.

Listen to why Rick Santorum wants to be president here:Rick Santorum at the Iowa State Fair

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders had quite the crowd and has set himself apart as being the only candidate to speak on the soapbox so far who wants to expand social security. He plans on doing this by lifting the cap on taxable income. Several other hot button issues: make all higher education free; overhaul campaign finance; end racism by bringing about major reform in the criminal justice system; equity pay for women in the workforce; and economy – “We need an economy that works for working people”.

And, climate change is real. He said, “When we talk about our responsibilities, as adults, as parents, as citizens of this Earth, we have a moral responsibility to make certain that we leave this planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. Climate change is real. Climate change is caused by human activity. Climate change is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world. What the United State must do, and I will do as president, is lead the world in working with other countries to transform our energy system.”

Listen to why Bernie Sanders wants to be president here:Bernie Sanders at the Iowa State Fair

Lincoln ChafeeLincoln Chafee believes that when electing legislators, voters need to look at past performance, character and vision. He told the crowd that while he was governor, he worked to curb climate change; fought for marriage equality; made investments in education a priority; and helped to lead the nation in the rollout of Obama Care. In terms of national security, he will work hard to end wars if elected saying, “Prosperity comes with peace”.

While he didn’t address renewable energy during his remarks, he did answer the question on his stance on renewable power for rural America. His answer: hydropower. He was part of a group who worked with Canada to bring hydropwer down to the northeast. He stressed that it is reliable, affordable and clean and needs to have a more prominent position in the energy discussion. He also supports other forms of renewable energy including geothermal, wind and solar.

Listen to why Lincoln Chafee wants to be president here:Lincoln Chafee at the Iowa State Fair

None of the candidates specifically addressed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this time around. But at some point all candidates in the race will have to discuss their position to win the state’s nomination- Iowa is the leader in biofuels production including ethanol and biodiesel and has been leading several campaigns to save the RFS.

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Republicans Carson, Pataki on the Soapbox

Republican presidential hopefuls Dr. Ben Carson and former New York Governor George Pataki took the Des Moines Register Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair this weekend with a common message of reducing America’s debt.

Ben CarsonDr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, focused much of his remarks on personal stories yet engaged the crowd with lessons learned. For example, he said, “The person who has the most to do with what happens in life is you.” Smart words from a smart man. His big campaign focus, though, is that the country is in the process of destroying the future of the next generation in part because both Democrats and Republicans are “blowing up the budget”. He stressed the real problem is the fiscal gap – program needs that don’t meet needed funding – or unfunded liabilities (Medicare, Social Security).

The closest he came to addressing energy was when he spoke about the importance of the arts in education and when he was growing up if he said Van Gogh, the response was, ‘add gas and the van will go’. All joking aside, in the first Republican debate he said, “I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations’ for 30 percent ethanol blends.”

Listen to why Ben Carson wants to be president here:Ben Carson at the Iowa State Fair

George PatakiPataki stood strong on both economy and the military. He was the NY Governor during 9-11 and said “we must shut down ISIS”. He wants to give “the power back to the people”. He wants to throw-out the corrupt tax codes, reduce the government workforce by 15 percent and lower tax rates for small business and families.

He also said he is the only candidate that grew up on a farm. “I don’t have a plane. I have three tractors. In fact, I was out on a tractor last week moving hay.” He spent most of his life living on a farm and he, his wife and family farm today in upstate New York. “Great, but what does that does it mean? It teaches you values,” stressed Pataki.

Pataki didn’t discuss energy so voters who care about the issue will need to keep an ear to the ground in future months to learn more about his stance on renewable energy in America.

Listen to why George Pataki wants to be president here:George Pataki at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Jeb Bush Kicks off Fair Speech on Energy

Republican Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and presidential hopeful, kicked off his time on the Presidential Soapbox promoting his support of renewable energy and agriculture. Florida has a huge agriculture community and is home to one of the first advanced cellulosic facilities, Ineos Bio located in Vera Beach, that began production in May of 2013. The plant uses wood, plant and landfill waste. And this May, the Advanced Disposal plant began producing gas-to-energy from the emissions created by the Sarasota County, Florida landfill.

Bush began his Jeb Bush at Presidential Soapboxremarks by focusing on an America in decline. But unlike his predecessors, he enveloped his support of two of Iowa’s largest industry’s – renewable energy and agriculture – at the very beginning of his talk rather than waiting until he was asked by an Iowa State fairgoer his stand of the two issues.

Bush noted that the EPA, through its Clean Air Act, “will stifle the ability for industry to be created and agriculture to work leading the world”. “We have serious, serious problems,” continued Bush. “We need to embrace the energy revolution, and be energy secure with North American resources in a short period of time with American ingenuity, American innovation and American technology.”

Listen to why Jeb Bush wants to be president here:Jeb Bush at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Dems Webb & O’Malley Take the Soapbox

Democratic hopeful presidential candidates Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley both appeared on the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox yesterday afternoon speaking to hundreds of Iowans attending the Iowa State Fair. They have some fundamental issues in common, including both the need for better education and to bring the American dream, aka the economy, back to Americans. While Webb’s plans to do so were a bit more fluid, O’Malley pitched his 15 point plan to American prosperity. This includes tackling climate change and fostering global sustainably development.

Jim Webb at Presidential SoapboxIn terms of energy Jim Webb supports agriculture and renewable energy. He supports the pipeline and says that reports show environmentally the pipeline is neutral. He said he supports an “all above” energy strategy and that includes nuclear energy. He noted America has the safest, best managed nuclear program in the world and it is “totally” clean.

When asked if he supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) he replied that he supported renewable energy. He said Iowa is the perfect example of a place where it can work. He has visited a wind farm and an ethanol plant and said he was impressed with the technological advancements seen in the ethanol industry.

To learn more about why Jim Webb wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Jim Webb at the Iowa State Fair

Martin O'Malley at Presidential SoapboxDuring the question and answer portion of the speech, O’Malley was asked about renewable energy, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. He advocates for a clean energy grid by 2050 that he says will be “just in the nick of time”. He noted that in Iowa, 30 percent of electricity not only comes from wind energy, but highlighted the fact that multiple wind turbine components are manufactured in the state as well. He touted Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and California’s 50 percent goal.

O’Malley also stressed that Renewable Energy Portfolios (REPs/RES) and the RFS should not only stay in place, but they should be expanded. He stressed that these are the drivers of American ingenuity in technology development and the next generation of clean energy technologies.

To learn more about why Martin O’Malley wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Martin O'Malley at the Iowa State Fair

Mike Huckabee on the Soapbox

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas (the state of the Clinton’s), took the soapbox this morning as the kick-off candidate of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series taking place during the Iowa State Fair. He was the winner of Iowa’s 2008 Republican Caucuses. Now back to the Clintons for a moment. Huckabee worked and fought and campaigned against them for many years and said he won, then noted, “I hear Hillary Clinton could not come. She will email in her appearances”.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Since this is a site about alternative energy, I will be focusing my reporting on his views (and other candidates as well) on this issue. However, I will throw in some of his campaign platform issues as well.

For Huckabee, these are getting America back on a solid economic, security and moral ground. Through his “fair tax” he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back home and enable companies to build the products that are created in our own country competitively. He wants our military to be so strong, “nobody around the globe ever wants to pick a fight with us’. He wants to dismantle the IRS and bring frugal spending back to Congress. He noted, “We spend our campaign money like you wish the government spent your tax money. We try to be frugal.”

In terms of the biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), he said he is a big supporter. Why? Because our government made a promise to the farmers and those in the biofuels industry. “The government came to American farmers and asked them to engage in a process,” said Huckabee. To pull out disrupts an economy. He said the government made a promise to farmers and the renewable fuel industry and pulling out “just messed up people who trusted their government”. He feels the same about how veterans and those on social security and Medicaid are also being treated.

In closing, Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey encourages everyone, including presidential candidates, to #GetYourAgOn at the Iowa State Fair.

To learn more about why Mike Huckabee wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Mike Huckabee at the Iowa State Fair