Iowa Gov. Branstad: The EPA is totally waging a "war on corn"

Yes, I’m sure that’s it. This is coming from a Republican governor, no less, with Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steven King by his side. Terrific.

Gov. Terry Branstad said the Environmental Protection Agency has “embarked in a war on corn” with its proposal of lowering the current Renewable Fuel Standard at an event on Friday at the Lincolnway Energy plant in Nevada.

The message of “Don’t Mess with the RFS” was made loud and clear Friday by citizens and politicians from all over Iowa at the rally, which was put together by the state and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. …

“We produce more ethanol than we consume in gasoline in this state,” Branstad told the crowd, which responded with raucous applause. “This is one of the reasons we have a strong economy in Iowa, much stronger than the rest of the county. You may have heard the unemployment numbers and it shot to 4.6 percent in Iowa.

“We can’t let the EPA send it in the wrong direction,” he continued. “This industry provides good paying and vital jobs right here in communities all across the state. It supports our communities and our rural way of life and it provides American made renewable fuel and other byproducts.” …

“This flabbergasts me. This decision, this proposal by the EPA, its flabbergasting because after all, I remember Barack Obama coming all over Iowa,” King said. “He launched his campaign here and he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Iowa launching his campaign in the caucuses.

“It was all about renewable energy, the green industry was going to be developed,” he continued. “How could you be all about green industry, when this kind of proposal comes out of the EPA?”

Well, perhaps the EPA’s reduction proposal had a little something to do with them finally relenting on their misguided, market-distorting, price-spiking, not-“green” quest to give the ethanol industry a leg up through the Renewable Fuel Standard, and ergo give a cheap and cronyish boost to their own political discussions of their magnanimous climate-change plans, because they finally came to grips with reality? Maybe? Via RealClearEnergy:

The top line shows gasoline consumption, which has been declining steadily since 2006 due to improved gas mileage and the economic recession. The bottom line shows ethanol’s climb up the ladder of production since the mandates from the Alternative Fuel Act of 2007 have gone into effect. The two trends have now collided. Last year, the EPA mandated more ethanol than refiners could accommodate without pushing beyond the blend wall, the point where auto manufacturers will no longer honor warranties on cars manufactured before 2006. This set off a bidding war for the substitute Renewable Fuel Credits, which started driving up the price of gasoline.

Big Ethanol is convinced that they can mount a legal challenge to the EPA’s authority to roll back the required ethanol-to-gasoline volumes by any degree, and I do think it will be up to Congress to finally repeal this epic boondoggle once and for all (because the EPA’s mild backtrack doesn’t go nearly far enough) — but Iowa Republicans’ willingness to throw their usual free-market positions under the bus on behalf of the corn lobby is a testament to just how difficult that task will be.

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