Group Tells Iowa Campaigners to Stop Picking Oil

ARF-Logo1A group backing biofuels is telling 2016 candidates coming to Iowa to quit picking oil as the winner in energy policy. America’s Renewable Future (ARF) has taken out radio advertisements and full-page ad in the Des Moines Register, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and Sioux City Journal warning candidates that oil in U.S. energy policy is a government-subsidized stranglehold supporting foreign oil.

In addition, the political group has deployed a petition urging caucus-goers to “tell candidates to stop supporting hundred-year-old, big government subsidies for the oil industry, and to level the playing field by supporting the RFS. To boost this effort, ARF’s radio ad will run Tuesday through Thursday of this week. The aggressive radio buy includes spots on WHO Radio in Des Moines, WMT in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, and KSUX in Sioux City, among other stations across the state.

“Some politicians campaigning in our state are not listening to Americans who want a cleaner, more secure U.S. energy policy, and a renewable choice at the pump. We are calling on Iowans to sign our petition atwww.AmericasRenewableFuture.com telling Washington politicians to stop picking Big Oil over homegrown renewable fuel,” said ARF co-chair, Bill Couser, “Our call will be sound across the state via radio and online, urging Iowans to let candidates know where they stand.”

Growth Energy Points to Cruz Record on Biofuels

growth-energy-logoAs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announces his candidacy for president, Growth Energy is reminding voters of what the ethanol group calls his “pro-fossil fuel, pro-drilling legislation attempts to kill the homegrown renewable fuels industry.” This news release points to Cruz’s American Energy Renaissance Act, which Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says will promotes Big Oil and deny consumer choice.

“The recent legislation introduced by Senator Cruz is not only shortsighted in terms of a comprehensive energy policy, but it seeks to stifle all production and growth of homegrown, sustainable biofuels that help create American jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation fails to factor in the important role biofuels play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“Senator Cruz seems to believe that he is exercising leadership by attacking the only energy policy that has contributed to our economic, energy and national security. Yet Senator Cruz fails to challenge or acknowledge the excessive subsidies oil companies have received for 102 years and counting at the expense of the American taxpayer. Let’s be clear – this is not ‘profiles in courage,’ this is pandering to Big Oil.

“He says there are no benefits from renewable fuels; however, the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, from 60 to 33 percent, saved consumers at the pump, cleaned our air and revitalized our rural economy. Furthermore, his legislation is a direct attack on America’s farmers, the backbone of this nation, who are working overtime to feed the world and fuel America.”

Growth concludes that Cruz’s legislation would take away the freedom of choice for consumers to choose higher performing, less expensive fuel for which there is a demand.

Biofuel Advocates Invite Candidates to Learn RFS

ARF-LogoIt won’t be long until presidential candidates invade Iowa once again (and some already have). So, Iowa-based America’s Renewable Future (ARF) has publically invited Sen. Ted Cruz and all potential 2016 presidential candidates to tour Iowa renewable fuel facilities across the state to learn more about the success of the industry.

“The goal of our organization is to educate candidates on the economic importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its many advantages, not only locally, but nationally,” said former Lt. Gov. and ARF co-chair, Patty Judge, “the RFS sustains 73,000 jobs in Iowa and over 800,000 nationally. Iowa farmers epitomize hard work and are a beacon of rural America’s success and we hope that Sen. Cruz will stand with them.”

Following Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to the standard at the March 7 Iowa Ag Summit, the organization is especially interested in drawing the Texas senator to an ethanol plant tour on his upcoming trips in April. “Sen. Cruz’s remarks show that there is a chance to have important dialogue on this issue,” said ARF co-chair and Nevada, IA cattleman, Bill Couser, “I had a chance to personally invite Sen. Cruz at the Ag Summit in addition to the two formal invitations ARF has sent to his campaign and I hope that he will not miss this chance to see just what this policy means for real Iowans and their families.”

“This comes down to supporting independence from foreign oil while supporting American jobs or giving in to foreign interests and Big Oil,” added Couser, “We hope that Sen. Cruz we will make time to hear from folks who have seen the success in this industry and ask questions about his concerns.”

RFS in Spotlight at Iowa Ag Summit

iowa-ag-walkerNine potential Republican presidential were asked to address their opinions on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines on Saturday. The final score was six in favor, three opposed.

On the plus side were former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last to speak at the event, Walker said he viewed the RFS as an access issue. “So it’s something I’m willing to go forward on, continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure that there’s certainty in terms of levels set,” said Walker, adding that he would like to see market access issued addressed in the long term and voicing support for blender pumps. “Right now we don’t have a free and open market,” he said. Iowa Ag Summit comments from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

couser-cruzOn the Texas side are former Governor Rick Perry, who sought a waiver from the RFS in 2008 and said it should be left to the states, and Senator Ted Cruz, who said it would “be the easy thing” for him to say he supported the RFS before the Iowa crowd. “But I’ll tell you, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians who run around and tell one group one thing, tell another group another thing, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do anything that they said they would do,” said Cruz. He compared the RFS to “corporate welfare” and said the government should not pick winners and losers and said ethanol was a big enough part of the industry that “demand will continue without the federal mandate.”

Cruz is pictured here with Bill Couser, an Iowa cattle producer and ethanol supporter who is co-chairman of America’s Renewable Future (ARF), an Iowa based bipartisan coalition that supported the summit. He invited both Cruz and Perry to visit his operation in Nevada.

“Show them why we do this, how we do this, and say what do you think?” said Couser in an interview at the recent National Ethanol Conference. “I can say, let’s go look at a corn field, let’s go look at a feedlot, let’s go look at some windmills, let’s go look at Lincolnway Energy, and then let’s go to the DuPont plant right next door and I’ll show you what we’re doing with the whole plant and being sustainable.”

Couser says they plan to approach all potential presidential candidates individually and invite them to visit and learn more about agriculture and renewable energy, including Hillary Clinton. “Wouldn’t that be something if she showed up?” he said.

Listen to my interview with Bill here: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future Co-Chair

Also opposed to the RFS is former New York Gov. George Pataki, who “supports ethanol”, but honestly doesn’t think “the federal government should require anybody in America to buy anything, whether it’s renewable fuel or Obamacare” and thinks the RFS should be “phased out.”

SEIA Launches Campaign to Extend Solar Tax Credits

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has launched a national campaign designed to get Congress to extend the 30 percent solar Solar Power International 14 logoInvestment Tax Credit (ITC) beyond 2016. The campaign focuses on ‘tax fairness’. SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch announced the campaign during the opening session of Solar Power International (SPI). The campaign will begin in full stream in 2015, when a new Congress is sworn in.

“Since the United States first began incentivizing energy development, the average annual subsidy has been $4.8 billion for oil and gas, compared to just $370 million for all renewable technologies,” Resch said. “How is this fair? How is this a leveling playing field? How does this kind of policy support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy? Simply put, it doesn’t.”

Since the ITC went into effect in 2006, solar investment has exponentially grown. According to Resch, Solar installations in 2014 will be 70 times higher than they were in 2006, and by the end of this year, there will be nearly 30 times more installed solar capacity. There are also more than 143,000 Americans currently employed in solar.

“We’ve gone from being an $800-million industry in 2006 to a $15-billion industry today,” added Resch. “The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It’s taken the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar. Now, we’re going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years. And finally, during every single week of this year we’re going to install more capacity than what we did during the entire year in 2006. Tell me that’s not worth fighting for.”

Iowa GOP Makes Biodiesel Campaign Stop

branstad-ernstIowa biodiesel producers and soybean farmers hosted Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst at the REG Newton biodiesel plant last week.

Industry representatives also had a private meeting with Ernst where Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director Grant Kimberley said they discussed the pending federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) decision from EPA. “Our industry needs smart, consistent federal energy policy,” Kimberley said. “The economic and energy security benefits biodiesel provides are remarkable, making the RFS one of the finest policies we have.”

In remarks at the plant, Ernst said she favors renewable fuels because of her agricultural background and her service in Iraq as member of the Iowa National Guard. “Anything that we can do to make our nation more energy secure, more energy independent I certainly am going to support those efforts,” Ernst said.

Calling Iowa the “renewable fuels capital of the United States” Branstad said the entire industry is important to the economy, farm income, quality jobs, and reducing dependency on foreign oil. “So that’s why I’m so passionate and why I’ve fought so hard for the renewable fuel standard,” he said.

Under EPA’s current proposal, volume obligations for both biodiesel and ethanol would decline. A final decision on the proposal has yet to be announced.

Enviro Groups React to Prez Obama’s Climate Speech

“Yes this is hard, but there should be no question that the United States of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognize our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to combat it. We will do our part,” said U.S. President Barack Obama during the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit that is taking place this week in New York.

During his speech he pledged to put forth a proposal to continue combating climate change beyond 2020 as well as committed to addressing the serious and growing impacts of climate change that the poorest and most vulnerable around the world are already facing. In addition, he took responsibility for America’s role in climate change.

“As I sat in the audience today, I heard President Obama demonstrate the kind of climate leadership the world needs. He made it clear the U.S. is serious about fighting climate change through major cuts to our carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRCD) after the speech. “He promised to help communities around the world become more resilient and speed their development of clean energy. And he challenged other nations to step up their climate actions by promising a commitment to our own. This was a message of hope — hope that together we can head off the worst damages from climate change and leave our children a healthier world.”

Jennifer Morgan, director, Climate and Energy Programs for the World Resources Institute welcomed the President Obama’s clear focus and personal commitment. “I am encouraged by President Obama’s promise to put forth an ambitious post-2020 climate commitment early next year. Strong signals that the United States is decarbonizing its economy will set the stage for a successful outcome at the climate negotiations next year. As growing evidence shows, investing in a low-carbon economy creates jobs, reduces air pollution and improves people’s lives. The United States now must build on the importance progress made in recent years.”

It has been five years since the last climate summit in Copenhagen and the next summit will take place next year in Paris. Obama noted that scientists have learned a great deal more about climate change in the past few years and that they will continue to learn more. He also stressed that climate change is happening and action will mean survival.

“As the President made clear, we don’t have the luxury to act as though climate change isn’t happening,” continued Morgan. “For the most vulnerable communities, taking action now is a matter of survival. The good news is that we have the technology and techniques in hand to both shift to the low carbon economy and build resilience to climate impacts. President Obama’s announcement today is a key step in putting those tools to use. Better and more information about climate impacts is one of our most powerful tools to combat climate change. The President has signaled his commitment to ensure everyone around the world has access to the data they need to anticipate and protect themselves from the consequences of global warming.”
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Bridge to Clean Energy Future Act Unveiled

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02), along with 16 other members of Congress, have introduced HR 5559, the Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014. If passed, the bill would extend incentives to provide market certainty and to strengthen investment in clean energy such as extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy through 2016, offering parity with the Investment Tax Credit enjoyed by solar energy investments, and granting the solar industry the same access to credits at the start of a project’s construction that the wind industry has.

Iowa Wind Farm Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder“I’m eager to push this across the finish line this Congress,” said Blumenauer. “My state of Oregon is a leader in renewable energy technologies, and Dave’s state of Iowa is the second largest wind energy producer in the nation, so we understand the importance of stability and security in the clean energy sector. His help will be important in advancing this legislation. Making sure these energy sources are on an even playing field with the fossil fuel industry is essential to lowering carbon emissions, creating a cleaner environment, and creating good, non-exportable American jobs.”

According to the representatives, creating a tax landscape for renewables that allows them to compete fairly in the market with other energy sources benefits the country by creating a healthier environment and thousands of jobs. It also puts renewable energy on an equal footing with traditional fossil fuels, giving consumers choice about how they want to power their homes and their lives.

“The Production Tax Credit has helped the still-growing U.S. wind energy industry employ 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Iowans,” added Loebsack. “Like all businesses, the wind energy sector needs stability and predictability so long term investments and business decisions can be made. The continued expiration of the PTC causes slow-downs at manufacturing facilities and could lead to additional lay-offs. For our nation to move towards energy independence and continued job growth, we need to prioritize clean energy like wind and act immediately to pass this extension of the PTC.”

Stanford Releases State Clean Energy Cookbook

States are implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency program that could be adopted by their neighbors to improve their economies and reduce emissions cost-effectively according to a joint study by Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. These policies could be particularly valuable as states develop plans to meet pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut power plant carbon emissions.

The State Clean Energy CookbookThe State Clean Energy Cookbook: A Dozen Recipes for State Action on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” was led by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz. The report analyzes and makes specific recommendations regarding 12 policies that states are using today to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy. It also analyzes the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) State Energy Program, which assists all 50 states.

The authors reach “an encouraging conclusion” in the report, writing, “Both red states and blue states are turning green – whether measured in dollar savings or environmental improvement.”

“We are impressed by the breadth of experience that states around the country already have in encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy in ways that save money, reduce pollution and strengthen their energy security,” said Shultz, who co-chairs the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. “The goal of the study is to provide a source for states to compare and contrast innovative policies, so that they can learn from each other.”

Recipes for policy success include:

  • A detailed policy description
  • Recommendation for implementation
  • Current state examples
  • Discussion of policy benefits
  • Specific policy design considerations
  • Additional policy resources

Bingaman, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who co-authored the study, concluded “States truly are the ‘laboratories of democracy’ when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency, adopting groundbreaking programs and policies that could provide benefits around the country.”

Iowans Want More Biodiesel and Candidates’ Support for It

IowaBiodieselBoardLogoAs one of the nation’s leaders in biodiesel production, it comes as no surprise that Iowans are supportive of the green fuel. But a new survey shows that support is practically through the roof! The Iowa Biodiesel Board says a new survey of registered voters shows that more than three-fourths of those asked not only support biodiesel, but they want the federal requirement for the fuel to increase. And nearly the same amount say a Congressional candidate’s support for the Renewable Fuel Standard was an important factor in their voting decisions.

The 77 percent figure came in response to the question, “Do you support or oppose expanding the national Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires blending some renewable fuels into the nation’s fuel supply, to increase biodiesel use in the United States?”

What’s more, 69 percent said a Congressional candidate’s position on the RFS was “very” or “somewhat” important.

There are four U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat up for election in Iowa.

The survey comes as biodiesel producers are feeling a lot of market pressure because of the Obama Administration’s proposal to slash the RFS biodiesel target far below last year’s production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. It also comes as candidates are making a big push for that November vote.