Trump Tours Iowa Ethanol Plant

P1000220Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump toured the POET Biorefining ethanol plant in Gowrie, Iowa last night to learn more about ethanol production and the role ethanol plays in the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While onsite, he also visited with POET’s President James Moe along with America’s Renewable Future (ARF) Co-Chairs Lt. Governor Patty Judge and Bill Couser. Earlier this week, ARF released its Mid-term Report Card giving Trump a “Good Rating”.

“We want to thank Mr. Trump for his continued support for this industry and for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” said Judge. “He has shown that he is committed to Iowa’s farmers and to American entrepreneurship which has paved the way for making America cleaner, stronger, and more secure through the RFS.”

ARF is committed to both educating presidential candidates about the benefits of biofuels and the success of the RFS. In addition, they are publishing candidates’ views on these issues so voters who are concerned about energy issues understand the candidates’ positions prior to election day. According to ARF, Trump’s latest comments and show of support at the POET plant solidifies his standing with ARF and will earn him praise from the organization.

“It’s great for the country. I’m with you one hundred percent,” Trump said about the RFS to a crowd of POET employees and RFS supporters during his remarks.

Fuels America TV Ad Blasts Anti-RFS Congressmen

Fuels America has launched a new TV ad that blasts the Congressional leaders who sent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy a letter requesting that corn-based ethanol volumes be reduced in the final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules. The final rules for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are expected by the end of this month.

The ad calls out Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) for protecting oil company profits and criticizes the signers who Fuels America calls climate change deniers. It continues by urging viewers to “Remind Peter Welch to stand up for Vermont, not oil companies and climate deniers.”

As noted in a previous story, the 184 Members of Congress who signed on have collectively received more than $39 million from the oil and gas industry throughout their careers. When combined, the signers have a National Environmental Scorecard of 2.74 out of a possible 100 (based on voting records) from the League of Conservation Voters (LCVs). The Scorecard is a nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues. In addition 154 signers have an LCV score below 10, 140 have an LCV score below 5, and 76 have an LCV score of 0.

“After years of pleading with Congressman Welch, it is time to inform Vermonters about his beltway exploits with the oil industry attacking renewable fuels,” Advanced Biofuels Business Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman said in regards to the Congressional letter. “Mr. Welch didn’t just join an anti-biofuel campaign underwritten by the oil industry, he led the effort to recruit others. It is time to shine a brighter light on those encouraging EPA and the President to gut the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s not a chorus, it is the oil industry, climate deniers and EPA bashers disguised as one. This letter and the millions of dollars of oil contributions flowing to its signers tell you everything you need to know about the anti-RFS crowd.”

The anti-RFS letter came shortly after several members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on the EPA to support the RFS citing negative health an environmental benefits of biofuels and the negative effects of emissions especially in vulnerable communities. Continue reading

Biofuels Groups Blast House Hearing on RFS

uscapitolBiofuels backers say a U.S. House Science Committee had very little to do with science in regards to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Congressional committee met on the 10th anniversary of the RFS, and Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, said the committee has a history of misrepresenting biofuels, relying on misinformation and outright lies to cast a negative light on an American success story.

“Today’s hearing was nothing more than a coordinated attack against biofuels. Minus a few open-minded individuals who examined this issue based on facts, not pre-determined bias, this hearing did nothing to reflect the overwhelming contributions of the RFS…

“With regards to the environmental benefits of ethanol, the facts are clear. According to Argonne National Laboratory, – an objective national laboratory – ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when the highly controversial and disputed theory on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) is factored into the modeling. Furthermore, Argonne has found that without ILUC included, ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 57 percent compared to gasoline.

“It is unfortunate that the Science Committee missed an opportunity to provide an unbiased examination of the RFS. Instead, the Committee – which has no jurisdiction over this policy – continued to present a misguided agenda to smear biofuels, hosting several witnesses that fabricated information on the impact biofuels have on food prices, the environment and the American economy. This treatment of homegrown American fuels is insulting to the hardworking Americans across our country who are helping fuel our energy independence.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said “Big Oil’s narrative opposing the RFS no longer has any currency.” Continue reading

What Ben Carson Said About Ethanol in Debate

carson-debateDuring Wednesday night’s CNBC Republican presidential candidates debate, Dr. Ben Carson was asked about a comment he made to the Des Moines Register earlier this year that he would “probably be in favor” of using oil subsidies to increase pumps for ethanol blends.

The question posed by the CNBC moderator was “Isn’t that just swapping one subsidy for another?”

Carson responded by saying he was “wrong about taking the oil subsidies” and that “the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives.”

“All this too big to fail stuff and picking winners or losers, this is a bunch of crap,” said Carson.

Listen to Carson’s answer here: Ben Carson answers oil subsidies question

Carson said nothing about ethanol in his answer but America’s Renewable Future State Director, Eric Branstad issued a statement to clarify that ethanol does not receive government subsidies, “while the oil industry does and has for the past 102 years.”

“Iowans want a candidate who will take the time to learn about the issue, not just repeat the oil industry’s talking points,” said Branstad. “We hope that next time he comes to Iowa, Dr. Carson will actually meet with farmers so he can get a better understanding of the full issue and that he will choose to side with Iowa farmers instead of Big Oil.”

Bachelor Chris Soules’ Delivers Pro RFS Message

The end of this week mark’s the final countdown to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 required volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). To continue to gain support for the renewable energy legislation, Iowa-based America’s Renewable Future (ARF), has tapped in to Bachelor Chris Soules’ fame, who is an Iowa farmer, to raise awareness of the benefits of the RFS. He is also sharing the message of the importance of caucusing for pro-ethanol, pro RFS candidate for president.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.51.30 AM“As a farmer and an Iowan Chris knows firsthand just how important the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is to preserving 73,000 Iowa jobs, our agricultural economy, and our environment,” said ARF Co-Chair Rep. Annette Sweeney, “We are thankful that he is using his voice to tell Iowans about the choice we face this election. The choice is stark—politicians who do Big Oil’s bidding and want to repeal the RFS and candidates who stand with Iowans and support this commonsense policy.”

ARF has been following the candidates’ views on biofuels and the RFS, as have we at DomesticFuel, during the campaign process and this week marked the 100 day countdown to the Iowa caucuses. (And in case you missed it, yesterday fellow Iowa-based journalist Jerry Perkins with Biofuels Journal and I announced our “run” across Iowa for the 2015 presidency at the Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo in Omaha Nebraska. Running T-Shirt compliments of Fleet Feet Sports in Des Moines, IA.)

The video shows Soules on his farm in Northeast Iowa as he harvests field corn, which will eventually be turned into ethanol and Distiller’s Grain (DDG) for livestock feed. For farmers like him, the RFS protects his livelihood and the economic well-being of his tight-knit rural town of Arlington.

“Choosing who to caucus for is a very important decision – especially for Iowa farmers. We need to know if the candidates support the RFS and if they’ll defend this industry for farmers like me,” says Soules says in the video. “I hope you’ll join me in caucusing February 1st for a presidential candidate who stands with us and protects our livelihood through the RFS.”

New Poll Shows Iowans Support RFS

“We wanted a poll to tell us the truth about where caucus voters stand. This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. This is an American thing. This represents the future,” said Eric Branstad the Iowa State Director of America’s Renewable Future (ARF) during a press call to release the results of a new poll.

Dupont_ARF_Infographic_FinalThe results find that a majority of caucus-goers from both political parties would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and biofuels, specifically ethanol. The poll also found that 61 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats would be more likely to support a candidate who supports progress in these areas. The poll was commissioned by ARF and DuPont and conducted by Selzer & Company who is best known for their Iowa Poll on behalf of the Des Moines Register.

“The idea behind this poll was to get clean reads on what people are thinking in this space very generally and then unpack the rationale behind some of the feelings they have,” said Anne Selzer, president of Selzer & Company when discussing the poll methodology.

In addition to Selzer and Branstad, comments were also made from Brooke Coleman, founder and executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council and Jan Koninckx, global business director, biofuels for DuPont.

Listen to the press conference here: Iowa Caucus Voters RFS Poll Press Conference

After being asked their views on the RFS without introducing any information about the policy, the poll delved in a bit more as a means to understand how caucus goers viewed renewable fuels and the RFS specifically. Results show several reasons why voters believe the RFS should continue: Continue reading

Survey Finds Support for Clean Energy

ClearPath Clean Energy Poll“Support for clean energy is both strong with the overall electorate and with the conservative Republicans that form a core constituency for many Republican elected officials,” according to a new survey commissioned by ClearPath. Jay Faison, ClearPath founder, noted that the survey demonstrates that, “the big, myth-busting news was how wide and deep support for clean energy policy is among conservatives.” The organization is dedicated to developing support for market-based clean energy solutions.

Key findings include:

  • 84% of registered voters, including almost three-quarters of Republicans, favor taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States.
  • Energy independence, less pollution, and job growth are viewed by GOP voters as the “big 3” of clean energy benefits.
  • Solar policy enjoys enormous support among Republicans, with rooftop solar (82%) and net metering (86%) scoring highest among seven clean energy policy ideas tested.
  • Most voters – including a majority of Republicans (56%) – think the climate is changing and human activity is playing a role.
  • Among different approaches that win over voters on the issue of climate and clean energy, positive messages that emphasize what America can achieve are the most effective.
  • In particular, Republican and independent voters favor a candidate who says regardless of the debate over climate we should expand the use of clean energy because of its benefits and to mitigate risk.

The survey was conducted by Kristen Soltis Anderson of Echelon Insights in collaboration with Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies and Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion Research.

Soltis Anderson said of the survey findings, “Voters are looking for leaders who want to solve problems and go beyond party politics. Voters, including Republicans, want to take a step back from the politicization of energy and climate issues and pursue clean energy on its own merits.”

Prez Candidates Recommit RFS Support

Several presidential candidates have reiterated their support for the continuation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). (Click here to read articles relating to the candidates stand on energy issues).

ARF-Logo-Retina-AltSen. Santorum reaffirmed his support at a forum hosted by Heritage Action in South Carolina on Friday, at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Presidential Forum on Saturday, and at the taping of Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV on Sunday saying that the RFS creates jobs and domestically produced fuels and keeps the U.S. secure.

“Sen. Santorum has been an unwavering champion for renewable fuels and has always stood with Iowans on this crucial issue,” said America’s Renewable Future (ARF) State Director, Eric Branstad, “It’s why he won the Iowa caucus in 2012.”

Also during the Forum, Trump said that he supports the RFS. “I am totally in favor of ethanol, 100 percent.” This is the first time Trump gave his stance on the topic publicly.

The Rural Town Hall event also marked Sen. Webb’s first public affirmation of support for the RFS and Gov. Pataki’s full support. Pataki said that the government needed to keep the promise it made with the RFS, “Washington made a commitment to those farmers and those investors, we have to keep our word.”

Branstad added, “ARF is thankful for the commitments these candidates made and that all the above candidates took the time to meet with our organization or to tour an ethanol plant. A large part of our effort was providing education to all the campaigns and it’s clear that we’ve done that. Now we can focus on letting Iowans know where each candidate stands and on turning out our army of 50,000 caucus-goers on Feb. 1.”

Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

Reign in the EPA Say Republican Candidates

The last batch of Republican presidential candidates took the Soapbox stage during the last weekend of the Iowa State Fair.

Chris ChristieNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) took a different approach and only answered questions. His overall statement was that the government needs to enforce the laws currently in place – not just the laws we like- but all laws. Speaking of a law he doesn’t like: the Clean Power Plan. His state has submitted a request to end the program and believes that each state should set their own legislation and develop their own plans. For example, he noted that Iowa is a land of wind, but in the most dense state in the country, solar works better. New Jersey uses solar, natural gas and nuclear and has already met their 2020 clean power goals.

When asked about the Renewable Fuel Standard (#RFS), he said he supports the RFS. The problem is that the Obama Administration along with the EPA is not enforcing the law. He stressed that he is a huge supporter of more energy options and the RFS provides just this and he called out to other candidates to make up their mind on their RFS position.

Listen to why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to be president: Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair

U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz (R) took much of his time to crack jokes about the Democrats andTed Cruz the rest of his time to talk about all the U.S. government executive orders he would rescind along with government organizations he would dismantle including the IRS, Department of Education and all the other ABCs. And Cruz promised he will reign in the regulatory agencies that “descend like locusts on farms and ranches and small businesses.” As for energy, not sure if reigning in the EPA includes revisions (or trying to overturn) the Renewable Fuel Standard, Clean Power Plan or WOTUS.

Listen to why Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wants to be president: Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair

Bobby JindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) went back to the “by the bootstraps” message. He said this election is all about the American dream, like most other candidates, and how to bring it back. He wants to evolutionize the economy, stop illegal immigration, buff up our military power and curb the power of regulatory agencies such as the EPA who is regulating the “water in our backyards”. He concluded, “I ask you to believe again. Let’s rescue the idea of America before it slips away.”

Listen to why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be president: Bobby Jindal at the Iowa State Fair

Mark EversonThe very last presidential candidate to take the stage was Mark Everson (R) who is the former IRS Commissioner. Who better to call for tax reform than the person who knows it best. He said that this campaign, this country, needs a new type of politician (one could argue Donald Trump and Ben Carson are proving this to be true). In that he meant one who isn’t a life-long politician but rather one who knows how to run a business. He stressed that tax reform would get the economy going.

Listen to why Mark Everson, former IRS Commissioner wants to be president: Mark Everson at the Iowa State Fair

And thus concludes our #Energy and #Ag coverage of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair. The election is long so the candidates (especially the Democratic candidates) who chose not to address these concerns head on will have some time to get their messages straight before the caucus tentatively scheduled for Monday, February 1, 2016.