Iowa governor making the rounds in defense of the indefensible, i.e., the Renewable Fuel Standard

posted at 4:41 pm on December 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Last month’s news that the Environmental Protection Agency is finally, mercifully considering easing up on their hitherto absurdly intractable commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard — the environmentally degrading, price-hiking, and corporate-pork-tossing federal mandate that requires refiners to blend the country’s fuel supply with ever-increasing volumes of certain types of biofuels, or else purchase from a limited number of available credits for exemption — was greeted with cheers by just about everyone, minus of course Big Ethanol’s many lobbyists and the politicians who unfailingly cater to them.

The corn lobby has been running every play they can think of to convince the Obama administration that it somehow actually would not be in their interest to finally, if obliquely, fess up to the fact that they’ve only been supporting ethanol these past few years in order to add another grandiose “green” feather to their cap of munificent “all of the above” energy plans, but the increasing exposure of ethanol’s true and definitively not-”green” colors are depriving it of its erstwhile attractions in that arena. They’re ready to challenge the EPA’s [ever-questionable] legal authority to even move anywhere but forward with the Renewable Fuel Standard at all, but I think they’re hoping to head off the problem before it comes to that, if they can. Via the DesMoines Register:

Gov. Terry Branstad said today he will be testifying Thursday at a public hearing in Virginia sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a proposed rule to weaken the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

The governor said in a statement that he will offer strong public support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which he contends the EPA is seeking to dismantle, potentially causing significant economic harm to Iowa families.

And more from the National Journal:

It’s not his first Beltway visit in defense of the RFS. In late October, Branstad met with administration officials from the Office of Management and Budget, which was then reviewing 2014 RFS levels. His pleas evidently went unheard, as EPA announced reduced levels for many renewable fuels last month. Among the officials Branstad met with was Dan Utech, who has since been named President Obama’s top climate and energy adviser.

While Branstad’s first pitch didn’t sway EPA’s initial level-setting, it’s unlikely his follow-up appeals during the mandate’s public comment period will cause the agency to rethink its ruling.

One would hope not, but he may as well give it his best go; the, ahem, Republican governor is going to be running for his sixth term in short order, and with plenty of Iowans all about providing the corn industry with as much artificial market support as it can get, it certainly can’t hurt to knock the Obama administration for having the audacity to even think about partially walking back the RFS. It ain’t the full repeal that America needs and deserves, but it’s something.


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Iowa……. For the love of GOD! Hands off my money and just go away for a while!

ThePrez on December 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

the Republican governor is going to be running for his sixth term in short order, and with Iowans all about providing the corn industry with as much artificial market support as it can get, it certainly can’t hurt to knock the Obama administration for having the audacity to even think about partially walking back the RFS. It ain’t the full repeal that America needs and deserves, but it’s something.

Example #126,384,905 for why we can’t have nice things. Everyone is looking out for their own subsidy.

rbj on December 3, 2013 at 4:46 PM

This is why the Iowa caucus needs to be moved to the end of the line. It’s why we are all forced to put ethanol in our cars and pay more and more for food (corn, including feed corn being diverted to our gas tanks). F–K Iowa!

MJBrutus on December 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Iowa – stuck on stupid.

Bitter Clinger on December 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM

How can we make Iowa irrelevant? Their outsized influence is infuriating and this burning corn in our tanks makes that case every time I fill up.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 4:48 PM

$8 for 1 1/2 pound pack of bacon. Get bent Iowa.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Nothing like looking out for your self interest no matter how bad it screws everyone else. The corn farmers did fine before this biofuels crap and they will do fine when it goes away. No matter what they say, ethanol makes mpg go down and is not good for engines.

major dad on December 3, 2013 at 4:53 PM

People seem to stand on principle-until it affects them-me included.
I guess it’s human nature

gerrym51 on December 3, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Governor Bloomy.

22044 on December 3, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Iowa, Iowa … nobody is saying you can’t make ethanol, they’re just saying they’re going to stop holding a gun to my head and forcing me to buy it.

M’kay?

M240H on December 3, 2013 at 4:57 PM

the Republican governor is going to be running for his sixth term in short order.

Yet another reason for term limits down to the State and local level.

Johnnyreb on December 3, 2013 at 5:07 PM

The corn lobby has been running every play they can think of to convince the Obama administration that it somehow actually would not be in their interest to finally, if obliquely, fess up to the fact that they’ve only been supporting ethanol these past few years in order to add another grandiose “green” feather to their cap of munificent “all of the above” energy plans…

Some fiery writing there, Erika.

Nice job, keep up the great work.

UltimateBob on December 3, 2013 at 5:10 PM

This is why no conservative has a chance to win the Iowa Caucuses. None came close in 2012.

Kermit on December 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM

$8 for 1 1/2 pound pack of bacon. Get bent Iowa.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM

In the future, I’ll get my bacon from North Carolina, thank you very much.

UltimateBob on December 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM

“the Republican governor is going to be running for his sixth term in short order.”
Six terms? Way too long, he needs to go no matter how good a job he may have been doing. M240H is right, make all the ethanol you want but if I don’t want it, you own it.

major dad on December 3, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Iowa lags only Wisconsin as the most backward state in the union, do they even have indoor toilets down there?

Bishop on December 3, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Desperately seeking rents.

Great tag line on the front page, Erika!

I was reminded of this article I read back in 2009:

We Wouldn’t Have Teaparties If It Wasn’t For Rentseeking

INC on December 3, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Iowa lags only Wisconsin as the most backward state in the union, do they even have indoor toilets down there?

Bishop on December 3, 2013 at 5:16 PM

As long as I have that Rubenesque, blond, Norski girl from Saint Cloud to wipe my tush and wash my boys, who cares about your plumbing?

M240H on December 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM

The states that voted the most Republican should be the ones that have their primaries/caucuses first.

Iowa would most likely be in the bottom 50%.

Gunlock Bill on December 3, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Ethanol (hooch) is a great party-favor -
Gasoline is a great energy source for personal transportation.
You drink the hooch, let your car drink gas.

Another Drew on December 3, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Rent-sucking liberal jackasses.

Jaibones on December 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Why should I subsidize Iowa? I don’t live there.

Levinite on December 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Dear Iowa,

Why are you electing crony hacks? If your ethanol is so great it wouldn’t need ‘standards’ to push it on others or subsidies.

ajacksonian on December 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Hey, here’s something we could maybe do with all of that corn not made into fuel:
We could EAT. IT. As FOOD.

I read somewhere, that it’s actually a consumable item. True story!
Although, apparently it’s a science fact unknown to the reptilian Iowa Governor.

orangemtl on December 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Iowa? Aren’t those the idiots that gave us Barack Obama? I have a suggestion where they can put those corncobs.

GarandFan on December 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM

In the future, I’ll get my bacon from North Carolina, thank you very much.

UltimateBob on December 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM

That’s great. I got mine from a store in Houston but I bet corn is pretty close in price in NC as it is wherever that dang Blue Ribbon came from.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 6:21 PM

aaahhh ethanol…the target of millions of dollars of propaganda by the oil industry over market share.

Does everyone hate 1.50 cheaper gas at the pump? Hate 400,000 ObamaCare paying jobs? Does anyone hate that no USA Marines had to die for a supply of ethanol. Everyone hates the “mandate” but forgets the 40 yr old mandate of a USA military presence in the middle east for free oil flow–and a mandate for the next 40 years to protect EU oil supplies by the USA military as we become energy independent here.

8.00 bacon–corn is now back to 4.00 after rebound in supplies from drought year…..that bacon should be dropping in price hard real quick any day now if corn price is simply the cause. Maybe just maybe its transportation costs due to oil prices and middle man profits and gasp….chi-com imports and demand.

….and its becoming more apparent that all the repairs due to ethanol are simply poor maintainence by the owner or a repairman that if he doesn’t know the cause or fix blames it on ethanol.

sbark on December 3, 2013 at 6:27 PM

As long as I have that Rubenesque, blond, Norski girl from Saint Cloud to wipe my tush and wash my boys, who cares about your plumbing?

M240H on December 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Who knew that the St. Pauli’s girl would do that for you.

RickB on December 3, 2013 at 6:40 PM

sbark on December 3, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Dude. You don’t get out much, do you?

Wanderlust on December 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Gov. Terry Branstad Braindead

ReWrite™ engaged for hilarity.

Iowa lags only Wisconsin as the most backward state in the union, do they even have indoor toilets down there?

Bishop on December 3, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Why doesn’t Iowa have any high-level pro sports teams? Because if they did, Minnesota would demand teams too.

Steve Eggleston on December 3, 2013 at 6:45 PM

sbark’s post illustrates his/her utter lack of understanding regarding:

* Basic economic theory (keynes vs von hayek)
* Tax policy, mandates policy, and corporate subsidy policy (especially in regards to so-called “renewables” generally, much less biofuels specifically)
* Physics (calorific values, chemical interactions)
* Oil production (conventional and unconventional)
* Oil markets
* Biofuels production
* Biofuels markets
* Food production and markets (including linkage between biofuels mandates in first world countries and famine in third world countries)

Lemme guess: common core educated???

Wanderlust on December 3, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Pound corn, Governor. You’re looking like one of those Democrat rent seeking low lifes. Get indigestion.

Mason on December 3, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Looks like a south park character in that picture

Lionheart on December 3, 2013 at 8:16 PM

The corn lobby has been running every play they can think of to convince the Obama administration that it somehow actually would not be in their interest to finally, if obliquely, fess up to the fact that they’ve only been supporting ethanol these past few years in order to add another grandiose “green” feather to their cap of munificent “all of the above” energy plans, but the increasing exposure of ethanol’s true and definitively not-”green” colors are depriving it of its erstwhile attractions in that arena.

Dead-on.

David Blue on December 3, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Meanwhile… E15 (EPA-approved 15% Ethanol + gasoline blend) could destroy your non Flex-Fuel pre-2012 car, and your warranty may be void: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceW9Nc1hVHU

Unlike the current E10 (they never call it that, but that’s what we have now in most locations), E15 likes to separate in your car fuel tank, and ethanol ends up on the bottom of the tank… to be sucked up and sent to the engine to damage fuel lines, seals, gaskets and all sorts of stuff.

“Flex-Fuel” vehicles are setup for as much as 85% ethanol (E85) and won’t be bothered by E15.

E-R

electric-rascal on December 3, 2013 at 11:01 PM

I’m no supporter of blends beyond E10 for most people, understanding that emissions targets is the main reason it is blended that way. But what has occurred in recent years is that most blenders mix cheap, poor gasoline substitutes with the ethanol to create an 87 octane product and then call it gas. Yeah, it’s the cheapest option out there, but it’s not the 10% blended product that’s bad for your engine, it’s the 90% product you are running that isn’t even gasoline.

If you see a product at the pump that is blended with ethanol and is only 87 octane, DO NOT PURCHASE IT. Ethanol/gas blends should be 89 octane or higher.

Of course, blending this crap absolutely does save consumers considerable amounts. Just the 10% of gas saved by blending improves emissions and saves up $.40 to $1.00 a gallon at the pump, according to university studies.

Retail E-85 prices are often a bargain for people with FFVs who can pick and choose which product to purchase. Locally, E85 was $2.24 when E10 89 octane was $3.19. No brainer to use if available, even with the lower economy in spark ignition engines.

Research continues on how to best utilize ethanol resources going forward. Because it burns so cool, E-85′s lower energy content can be compensated for by increasing compression ratios. Ford’s new ATLAS truck concept reportedly features a duel fuel engine that increases compression ratios when additional power is required and direct injects E-85 into the cylinder compression chamber. This E-85 “boost” engine, according to MIT studies, could permit a large 6.6-liter, V8 diesel engine to be replaced with a smaller 3.2-liter, V6 EBDI engine, and get the same sort of fuel economy and performance from the vehicle.

The RFS law is flawed because motor fuel renewables all must be racked through oil retailers, who are then subsidized for doing so. If they won’t blend it, you can’t get it. So retail options for gasoline alternatives is unlikely to develop on a widespread basis. But the technology is available, and the more consumer options that are available, the better. While I don’t find it odd that oil companies would wish to block the further development of domestic fuel supplies, I do find it weird that many conservatives do. More is better.

Caustic Conservative on December 4, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Iowa lags only Wisconsin as the most backward state in the union, do they even have indoor toilets down there?

Bishop on December 3, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Dear Iowa,

Why are you electing crony hacks? If your ethanol is so great it wouldn’t need ‘standards’ to push it on others or subsidies.

ajacksonian on December 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Ouch Bishop, at least we didn’t elect Franken. We elected Branstad because he was much better than who we had before. I’ll be the first to admit that he, Steve King, and Grassley have all been huge letdowns. When it came time to choose to either stand on principle or pander to the electorate, they all chose to pander. Men of poor character.

Free Indeed on December 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Ouch Bishop, at least we didn’t elect Franken. We elected Branstad because he was much better than who we had before. I’ll be the first to admit that he, Steve King, and Grassley have all been huge letdowns. When it came time to choose to either stand on principle or pander to the electorate, they all chose to pander. Men of poor character.

Free Indeed on December 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Yeah, because politicians always give the finger to thousands of quality jobs in their states on principle? Political reality.

Caustic Conservative on December 4, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Branstad is better than Culver, and that is enough. He is not going to influence federal ethanol policy — this is about his reelection and keeping Democrats out of the governor’s mansion.

J Baustian on December 5, 2013 at 2:52 AM