Last month Iowa politicians from both parties expressed outrage after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard on how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline. At an EPA hearing in Washington today, Representative Bruce Braley (a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee) and Governor Terry Branstad both testified against reducing the Renewable Fuel Standard. Several Iowa farmers and representatives of corn and soybeans growers also spoke and met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy afterwards.
After the jump I've posted a statement from Braley's office containing highlights from his remarks and a link to the video. Branstad warned that reducing the RFS could lead to another farm crisis like the one Iowa experienced during the 1980s. I will add more details from his testimony if they become available. I expect both Braley and Branstad to feature their advocacy for ethanol and biodiesel in their campaigns for the U.S. Senate and governor next year.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that last month, Branstad's re-election campaign created a "Protect the Renewable Fuel Standard" website. I've added more details on that effort below. Like the pro-Olympic wrestling site the campaign launched earlier this year, ProtectTheRFS.com presents as a petition supporting a popular cause in Iowa, doubling as a way to build the Branstad campaign's contact list.
The progressive 501(c)4 group Americans United for Change announced today that it will run a commercial on Des Moines-based television stations to support the Renewable Fuels Standard. Scroll to the end of this post for the video and transcript. The ad encourages viewers to send their comments to the EPA by visiting a website called SavetheRFS.com (a list-building effort like the one Branstad's campaign created). The veterans political action committee VoteVets.org, which is part of the Americans United for Change coalition, operates SavetheRFS.com.
SECOND UPDATE: Added more comments from Branstad below.
Statement from Representative Braley's office, December 5 (emphasis in original):
VIDEO: Braley Testifies Against Proposed Reduction in Renewable Fuel Standard at EPA Hearing
Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today testified at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing about the proposed reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Braley said, "Iowans see the benefits of a robust renewable energy industry every day - job creation, rural economic security and lower gas prices are just a few of the positive impacts of renewable fuels production. Investment and innovation in renewable energy continues to grow, and these investments have helped create over 60,000 jobs and contribute 4 percent to Iowa's GDP every year.
"The EPA is proposing a reduction in the RFS because of pressure from Big Oil, not because of facts. Their proposal will negatively impact the renewable energy industry, putting job growth at risk and threatening Iowa's economy. It should be reversed."
Braley testified against the proposed changes, highlighting the damaging effects the changes would have on Iowa's renewable energy industry and economy. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad also testified at the hearing.
Last month, the EPA released a proposed rule that would reduce the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the RFS. Their proposal came a month after the EPA leaked a draft document of the proposed rule that would severely damage the renewable energy industry.
Broadcast quality video of Braley's statement at the EPA hearing can be downloaded at the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3inh...
The Des Moines Register reported on Branstad's comments at the EPA hearing:
"People in Iowa feel betrayed when somebody who has been an advocate for renewable fuels and a supporter of this, his administration has reversed course and is going to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard," Branstad said in a blistering attack against the oil industry and the Obama administration. "This is going to drive us into what could be another farm crisis. It makes no sense. They need to listen to the people in the heartland that know what is going on."
Brandstad, who received an applause from the crowed after his 10-minute speech, said he would speak in Washington later on Thursday with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to find out more about the proposed cut. A meeting with President Obama was turned down, he said.
"The EPA is now caving in to the demands of Big Oil, who has always resisted renewable fuels from the beginning," said Brandstad, sporting a "Don't mess with the RFS" pin on his suit. Iowa "will be one of the hardest hit by this proposal."
Sioux City's KTIV reported,
Governor Branstad argued the decision would result in thousands of lost jobs nationwide and hurt the country's agricultural economy.
Branstad said he's urging President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to continue strong support for renewable fuels.
"There's no reason why they should flinch under the pressure of big oil at this critical time. We need to continue the progress and the growth that has occurred and the benefit that this has to revitalize rural america," said Gov. Terry Branstad.
Branstad-Reynolds campaign press release, November 19:
Branstad, Reynolds launch www.ProtectTheRFS.com to protect Renewable Fuel Standard
Jimmy Centers November 19, 2013
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today launched the website www.ProtecttheRFS.com to allow concerned citizens to voice their concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) slashing of the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD, DEFEND AND PROTECT THE RFS AT PROTECTTHERFS.com
"The EPA's ruling to slash the RFS will have a negative ripple effect through the American economy," said Branstad. "The result of this proposed rule change would mean corn prices would plummet below the cost of production, loss of jobs and increased dependence on foreign oil. Concerned citizens cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for the comment period to open. Now is the time to defend and protect the RFS."
ProtectTheRFS.com will allow visitors to sign a petition urging the EPA to reverse its ill-advised rule aimed at eroding the RFS. Though the official comment period hasn't opened yet, Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds feel it's critically important for Americans to speak up now to push back on the EPA's ruling. The comments submitted to ProtectTheRFS.com will be sent the EPA prior to the closing of the comment period.
"Governor Branstad and I are extremely concerned the changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard will disrupt Iowa's positive economy and hinder job growth. As a leader in biofuels, Iowa has 41 ethanol plants, accounting for 28 percent of total U.S. ethanol production," said Reynolds. "Most importantly, this national issue jeopardizes jobs at a time when Americans are seeking stability in their lives. The EPA proposal places more than 44,000 U.S. jobs at risk. That is clearly unacceptable."
Those interested in protecting and defending the RFS may also spread the word on Facebook by visiting www.Facebook.com/ProtectTheRFS.com and follow the movement on Twitter at @ProtectTheRFS.
The website was built without any state funds. For more information, please visit www.ProtectTheRFS.com.
Americans United for Change tv ad: "Simple Choice":
Transcript provided by Americans United for Change:
It's a pretty simple choice.
Or Big Oil?
Jobs right here at home?
Or more jobs sent overseas?
Or oil company profits?
It's America's energy, and it's America's choice.
Tell the E-P-A to stand with Iowa farmers and small towns, not big oil.
Tell the E-P-A: Don't gut the renewable fuel standard.
Visit Save The R-F-S dot com.