Column: Renewable fuels bring big boost to Iowa’s economy
Q: How has your support for renewable fuels helped Iowa? A: Iowans breathe cleaner air and can chalk up a stronger, healthier economy thanks to renewable fuels. My long-held support for public policies that foster growth, investment and sustainab...
Q: How has your support for renewable fuels helped Iowa?
A: Iowans breathe cleaner air and can chalk up a stronger, healthier economy thanks to renewable fuels. My long-held support for public policies that foster growth, investment and sustainability in this emerging industry has yielded far-reaching results for state and local economies, the environment and energy security.
Federal tax, energy and infrastructure policies that I have helped secure into federal law, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard enacted in 2005 and expanded in 2007, create a more level playing field with traditional fossil fuels, expand markets for homegrown commodities, trigger private sector investment and give consumers a choice to save money and the environment at the pump.
For generations, Iowa farm commodities have anchored the tax base, wages, commerce and livelihoods for families across the state. Iowa leads the nation in corn and soybean production. We also lead the way for renewable fuels, including next generation cellulosic ethanol production. Blessed with abundant natural resources, Iowa farmers are borrowing a page from the pioneers who plowed the prairie generations before them.
Embracing innovation and technology, Iowa’s stewards of the soil and captains of industry are writing a new chapter for the 21st century. They are finding a way to lay claim to the American Dream by feeding and fueling the world. The market for renewable fuels is boosting their bottom lines, creating good-paying jobs and paying it forward for future generations to come by creating clean energy solutions that grow America’s energy independence.
And it’s happening in America’s heartland. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently testified at a public hearing in Washington, D.C., about the impact the RFS has made for Iowans. Her testimony reflected why a strong RFS is so important to Iowa’s economy and family paychecks: More than 43,000 jobs are supported by the renewable fuels industry in Iowa, generating $2.3 billion of income. Iowa motorists saved more than $315 million in 2015 using ethanol-blended fuels, according to figures from the Iowa Department of Revenue. Bureaucratic foot-dragging and misguided arm-twisting by Big Oil and Big Grocers during the previous administration undermined the market for renewable fuels. And yet, Iowa continues to pave the way toward next generation, advanced biofuels. The largest producer of cellulosic ethanol using corn kernel fiber operates in Galva, Iowa. And two large-scale commercial cellulosic facilities that produce fuel from corn stalks and corn cobs are located in Emmetsburg and Nevada.
My advocacy for renewable fuels is as strong as ever. As the EPA considers the Renewable Volume Obligation for 2018, I will work to ensure the executive branch abides by congressional intent. The EPA should be promoting growth and investments in the biofuels sector. Congress set the bar for renewable fuel innovation and development for good reason. We support the production and use of renewable fuels because it’s good for the environment, it’s good for U.S. energy security and it’s good for economic growth.
Q: What does the recent federal court decision mean for renewable fuels?
A: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed an Obama administration rule for the implementation of RFS volumes for 2014-2016.
Ignoring the prescribed target set by Congress, President Obama’s EPA effectively failed to faithfully execute the law, according to the federal appellate ruling. Specifically, the court ruled that the EPA erroneously reduced the required level for overall renewable fuels. Despite adequate domestic supplies, the EPA wrongfully cited demand-side constraints to rationalize the lower threshold. The good news is that the court ruling opens the door for advanced biofuels to make up for the lost market share of some 500 million gallons.
Moving forward, the EPA needs to fully implement the RFS as Congress intended. It remains to be seen how the EPA will remedy the mistake. The circuit court ruling sends the ball back to the EPA’s court. Now it can fix the flawed RFS volumes that shortchanged farmers, renewable fuels producers and consumers.
Think about it. The court rescinded the previous administration’s rule that kept half a billion gallons of homegrown energy out of the U.S. energy pipeline and prevented consumers from choosing a more affordable, clean-burning option at the pump. This is a good example that reflects why I work so hard to uphold the rule of law and strengthen our system of checks and balances. The economy grows stronger when entrepreneurs, innovators and employers have confidence that the laws will be carried out faithfully as Congress intended.
The RFS provides certainty that helps the U.S. economy, energy security and the environment. That’s why I continue to lead bipartisan efforts to ensure the EPA sets robust RFS volumes for 2018 and in the years ahead.