Potential Republican candidates for president will face criticism from Iowans if they don't pledge their support of the government's renewable-fuel standard, which plays a large role in the Hawkeye State's economy.
According to the Wall Street Journal,
several of the prospective GOP candidates will speak at an event on Saturday — the Iowa Ag Summit — that supports the industry. Proponents of the renewable-fuel standard, which mandates that a percentage of auto fuel produced in the United States be blended with ethanol made from corn, say it supports 73,000 jobs in Iowa and is a form of clean energy.
One of the sponsors for Saturday's event, America's Renewable Future, claims on its website
that the fuel standard is responsible for $5 billion in wages paid to Iowans every year.
Two potential Republican candidates scheduled to attend the event, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, have publicly supported the fuel standard in the past.
But other possible GOP candidates for the White House, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, want to get rid of the mandate.
"They're going to be in real trouble if they don't [support the fuel standard] because we're going to educate people on where the candidates stand," Eric Branstad, the son of Iowa's governor and the director of America's Renewable Future, told the Journal.
Part of the argument against the renewable-fuel standard is that it's just another facet of society controlled by the government. Critics also say that growing crops for biofuels, including corn and sugar, is energy-intensive
and takes up large footprints of non-agricultural land.
Other potential candidates on the Republican ticket who have declined to support the fuel standard in the past include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports the Journal. Others, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have not publicly commented on the issue.
Paul's spokesman told the Journal, however, the senator "does not support the government telling consumers or businesses what type of fuel they must use or sell."
And Bush, the Journal points out, supported a 2006 program to import ethanol made from sugar from Brazil.
The report claims potential Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton declined an invite to Saturday's summit. She did, however, support the renewable-fuel standard during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dragged its feet
in announcing the latest biofuel standards for diesel fuel. The set of guidelines for 2014 was never released, which has left refineries waiting and confused.
"This is an industry hanging on broken promises and leveraging everything waiting for the EPA to comply with the law," National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe said last month.
"We have dozens of producers just barely hanging on."
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