Ethanol Plays Key Role in Iowa Campaigning

caucusSen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Republican ticket in Iowa last night with Donald Trump coming in second despite Cruz’s ambiguity on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, compared to the campaigning four years ago, ethanol has gained a significant amount of positive ground according to a press conference held by Growth Energy. The Iowa Caucus kicks off the beginning of the nomination process for the next U.S. president.

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, noted on the call that the oil industry is calling the results proof that Iowans don’t care about ethanol. However, he says the facts are, “Over 80 percent of the votes yesterday in Iowa were cast for candidates that are in favor for the RFS.” The results find that there were more pro-RFS votes made in Iowa this year than in 2012.

For example, in 2012 in Iowa, anti-RFS candidate votes were cast for Ron Paul: 21.5 percent; Rick Perry: 10.4 percent; and Michele Bachmann: 5 percent for a total of 36.9 percent. Whereas in 2016, anti-RFS votes were for Ted Cruz: 27.7 percent and Rand Paul: 4.5 percent for a total of 32.2 percent.

According to Paul Tewes, political strategist, who has been a keen observer of the campaigning process, said he has never seen ethanol more talked about, perform better as a whole, or have a politician like Ted Cruz be more contorted about how to talk about it than this one. “This was a race here where ethanol was put on the map, where candidates had to talk about it and most of the candidates moved either completely for it, or the few that didn’t, moved towards it.”

He also noted that if Cruz is the Republican nominee, then he believes Democrats will take the state in November.

Monte Shaw, executive director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) added that the effort to support the RFS in Iowa has always been more than about one candidate. “It was about trying to get candidates to understand the reality of the support oil gets from the government and how the RFS cracks through that monopoly.”

To learn more about Iowa voter support for ethanol and the RFS, listen to the full press conference including the Q&A here: Iowa Caucus Results Press Conference

RFA: Cruz In But Ethanol Not Out

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have won in Iowa last night, but according to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFS), ethanol is not out. RFS President and CEO Bob Dinneen said that his win has created a narrative that presidential candidates campaigning in the state no longer have to voice support for ethanol or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Dinneen said this is not the case.

“The narrative comrfalogo1ing out after last night’s Iowa caucus that the domestic ethanol industry is somehow on the ropes is false,” said Dinneen. “Many people seem to have forgotten that, in the run-up to last night’s caucus vote, though Sen. Cruz stated he was opposed to the RFS he also expressed support for ethanol as a fuel. In fact the senator has discussed the need to provide American consumers better access to ethanol fuels like E25 or E30, stating that they could prove to be quite popular with American consumers who are increasingly concerned about fuel economy. The senator also called ethanol an effective additive because it increases octane and decreases harmful tailpipe emissions. That doesn’t sound like someone to me who is writing off the domestic ethanol industry. That sounds to me like someone who is just being true to his no-mandates of any kind philosophy.”

Dinneen added, “Moreover, pundits anxious to write off ethanol’s potential currency in Iowa should note that more than 85 percent of the votes cast in Iowa last night were in support of candidates who continue to champion the RFS.”

Cruz Takes Iowa Despite #RFS Campaign

America's Renewable Future logoSen. Ted Cruz of Texas finished a strong first in the Iowa caucuses, despite heavy campaigning against him by the ethanol industry and even Governor Terry Branstad saying it would be a “big mistake for Iowa to support him.” Still, America’s Renewable Future, headed by Branstad’s son Eric, took a positive tone on the caucus results, noting that 100% of Democrats and “more than two-thirds of Republicans are caucusing for a pro-ethanol, pro-RFS candidate.”

“We feel good about our results. The vast majority of our candidates and the vast majority of caucus-goers realize the economic, national security, and environmental benefits of the (Renewable Fuel Standard),” said Eric Branstad. “And even though Sen. Cruz’s position would be devastating to our economy and tens of thousands of Iowans’ livelihoods, even he, who has accepted more donations from oil than any other candidate and is personally invested in oil companies, claims that he’s pro-ethanol and wants to eliminate oil subsidies. That’s a sure sign how important the RFS and ethanol are.”

trump-iowaDonald Trump was “honored” that he placed second in the Monday caucuses in Iowa and expressed his love for the state during his speech to supporters last night, with a parting note that he could become a farmer.

“Iowa, we love you, we thank you, you’re special,” said Trump. “We will be back many, many times – in fact, I think I may come here and buy a farm – I love it!”

Listen to Trump’s remarks here: Donald Trump after Iowa Caucuses

Iowa Ethanol Retailer Profiled for Caucuses

goodIn its coverage leading up to the Iowa caucuses, NBC Nightly News profiled an independent fuel retailer who has become a strong advocate for higher ethanol blends.

Charlie Good, who has been in the fuel retailing business for 35 years as a convenience store operator and auto mechanic, started offering higher ethanol blends at his Good and Quick store in Nevada, Iowa in 2013. NBC headlined him as an “Iowa man who’s never caucused before” and he had the opportunity to tell Tom Brokaw why he wanted to be more involved in this year’s election – and it’s all about renewable fuels like ethanol. “This is about national security, providing our own fuel and not buying from people who want to hurt us,” he said.

I interviewed Charlie last March when he took his story to Capitol Hill with the American Coalition for Ethanol, and you can watch Good in the NBC spotlight here.

Policy Panel at #NBB16

nbb-16-panelBack by popular demand, the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference once again featured a panel of former Congressional representatives to talk about renewable fuels policy and in this election year, presidential politics as well.

The panel featured former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, who spoke at the first general session this week; former Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, and former Republican Congressman Kenny Hulshof of Missouri.

All of the panelists expressed grave concerns about candidates’ abilities to run this country. “I think my party will either choose well or choose its destruction,” said Inglis.

As a Democrat, Dorgan said he was worried about both political parties. “All this (the campaign) is very clever and funny but this is really serious business, we’re talking about the future of this country,” he said.

Hulshof said he was personally supporting John Kasich for president, but definitely was not so much for Trump. “I’m sure there are a lot of Trump supporters here – and that’s great …. for you.”

When it came to policy issues for biodiesel, all of the panelists expressed their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and for a producers tax credit.

Listen to the panel here: Biodiesel Policy Panel

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

GOP Debate Spotlights Cruz Views on #Ethanol

debate-cruzWith the Iowa caucuses coming up on Monday, agriculture and renewable fuels finally got some attention in the Republican debate last night, as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was asked about his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“We should be developing oil and gas and coal and nuclear and wind and solar and ethanol and biofuels but I don’t believe that Washington should be picking winners and losers,” said Cruz during the debate. “But I don’t believe Washington should be picking winners and losers and I think there should be no mandates and no subsidies whatsoever,” adding that his tax plan includes eliminating subsidies for oil and gas. He said it is “not true” that he opposes ethanol and noted Rep. Steve King (R-IA) “perhaps the fiercest defender of farmers” in Iowa supports him.

Listen to Cruz here: Sen. Cruz on RFS and ethanol

iowa-cornHowever, the senator’s words got him no love from Iowa Corn Growers president Bob Hemesath, a farmer from Decorah, who urges people in Iowa to “support a candidate who supports the RFS.”

“Ted Cruz claims that he supports ethanol, he does not support the RFS,” said Hemesath during a conference call this morning. “We can’t afford to let the ethanol industry to be taken away from us by a president who doesn’t support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Listen to Hemesath’s comments here: Iowa Corn Growers president Bob Hemesath

#Biodiesel Policy Update at #NBB16

nbb-16-steckelBiodiesel policy is laser-focused right now on two primary issues – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the tax incentive – two policies that drive growth in the industry.

During an address to the membership at the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said they should take credit in the success of getting higher volumes under the RFS. “The fact that biodiesel was able to achieve most of its policy goals while others did not…is something we should really be proud of,” said Steckel. “I am proud to say that a two billion gallon standard moving forward is a long way away from the original RFS that flat lined biodiesel at 1.28 billion gallons.”

Steckel noted that they will continue to work toward a producers tax credit. “We were successful in winning a two year extension (of the blenders tax credit) through the remainder of this year,” she said. “However Congress…stopped just short of converting the tax credit into a producers incentive.” She says the fight will continue.

Learn more here: Anne Steckel, NBB VP of Federal Affairs

Cindy Zimmerman also interviewed Anne about the 2015 biodiesel numbers that came out earlier this week and how they show the need for a producers tax credit as more biodiesel is being imported into this country to take advantage of the blenders credit.

Listen to that interview here: Interview with Anne Steckel, NBB

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Ethanol Report on Media, Politics and the RFS

ethanol-report-adWith the Iowa caucuses coming up February 1, the Hawkeye State has been inundated with both candidates and reporters, and ethanol has become a topic for mainstream media to report about, often inaccurately. In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses the inaccurate terms being used to describe the RFS, urges the media and voters to do independent research, and gives his thoughts on the views of Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Ethanol Report on Media, Politics and the RFS

#RFS Campaign Fact Checks from @EthanolRFA

rfalogo1Ethanol has been in the spotlight as a presidential campaign issue with the Iowa caucuses just around the corner, but the Renewable Fuels Association is concerned about some of the misconceptions that have been tossed around in the discussion so they have issued a one-page fact sheet to correct some of that with both candidates and the media.

First – there is no “corn ethanol subsidy.”The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (also known as the “blender’s tax credit”) expired five years ago in 2011. Further it was gasoline blenders — not ethanol producers — who received a 45 cent per gallon tax credit for each gallon of ethanol blended. The Small Ethanol Producer Tax Credit also expired in 2011.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is not a “subsidy.”The RFS is not a tax incentive or subsidy in any way, shape, or form. The RFS has absolutely no impact on the federal budget or tax revenues. Rather, the RFS is a program that guarantees lower-carbon biofuels will have access to a fuel market that is overwhelmingly and unfairly dominated by petroleum.

There is also no such thing as an “ethanol mandate.”The RFS does not mandate the use of corn ethanol or any other type of ethanol for that matter. Rather, the RFS requires that oil companies blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels, without specifying the type of renewable fuel. In fact, oil companies may meet their RFS obligations by blending and marketing biogas, renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, biobutanol, biodiesel, and a host of other renewable fuel options. While a wide variety of renewable fuels are being produced today, ethanol has been the highest-volume and lowest-cost renewable fuel available to meet RFS requirements.

Read more here.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen urges members of the media to contact the RFA if they have questions about ethanol or the RFS. “Unfortunately the media has been perpetuating a lot of the misinformation about the ethanol industry as they cover the presidential candidates,” said Dinneen. “There are two sides to every story and if reporters have questions, or need further clarification on any ethanol-related issues, we are ready and available to assist them.”

Iowa Governor Blasts Ted Cruz Over Ethanol

irfa-branstadIowa Governor Terry Branstad made national headlines Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit with his comments about presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during an impromptu press conference.

“He is heavily financed by Big Oil,” Branstad said about Cruz. “I think it would be very damaging to our state…and I think it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Branstad noted that Senator Cruz was not invited to speak at the renewable fuels summit specifically because of his views on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “That’s the reason why he hasn’t been invited to this because he hasn’t supported renewable fuels,” said Branstad. “He still supports immediately repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Branstad added that Cruz is “against the wind energy tax credit as well.”

Listen to Branstad’s comments here: Gov. Branstad comments on Ted Cruz

Governor Branstad addressed the 10th Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, which he has done almost every year that the event has been held. “I have supported ethanol and biodiesel from the very beginning,” he said. Gov. Branstad at Iowa RFA summit

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album