The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Pro-ethanol groups praise Romney on RFS position

Three key ethanol groups — the Renewable Fuels Association, the American Council on Ethanol, and Growth Energy — guardedly praised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for announcing today that he supports the Renewable Fuel Standard, while the Obama campaign said Romney's speech mostly signaled support for big oil and was vague on renewable energy.

After Romney spoke on energy in Hobbs, N.M., Reuters reported that his energy plan would “support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources by maintaining the RFS and eliminating regulatory barriers” to diversify the power grid, the fuel system and vehicle fleets.

The plan did not detail how Romney would support the ethanol mandate, Reuters noted. But the Los Angeles Times noted that Romney highlighted his plans to expand domestic drilling while campaigning in New Mexico today, promising to help America move toward energy independence by 2020.

Bob Dinneen
Bob Dinneen
“We applaud Gov. Romney’s commitment to domestic renewable fuels and his recognition of the importance of the RFS,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“By working to remove barriers to market access for renewable fuels, as Gov. Romney suggests, America can help spur an economic recovery while securing our energy future,” Dinneen said. “We look forward to hearing more details of Gov. Romney’s energy ideas as the campaign continues.”

The Advanced Ethanol Council commended Romney for his commitment to the RFS, but said that it hopes that he will think more about tax breaks for renewable energy.

Brooke Coleman
Brooke Coleman
“We commend Gov. Romney for recognizing the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to the economic and environmental welfare of the country, and the need to open up the marketplace to renewable fuels,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the AEC.

“First-generation biofuels are already competitive with petroleum-based fuels, and next-generation biofuels are coming online as we speak,” Coleman said. “The RFS and market access are two critical pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the ongoing development of the domestic biofuels industry.”

He asked the candidate, however, to support tax incentives for renewable fuels.

“One area where we hope Gov. Romney will be more explicit is in his campaign’s support for parity in the tax code for renewable fuels,” added Coleman. “We cannot have an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy if the U.S. tax code continues to offer incentives to oil and gas developers that are not being offered to renewable fuels projects. Leveling the playing field in the tax code is absolutely critical to achieving the energy security goals set forth by the Romney campaign.”

Jim Nussle

Jim Nussle
Jim Nussle, a former Iowa Republican congressman, is president and COO of Growth Energy.

“I am very pleased to see that Gov. Romney has highlighted within his energy plan the importance of renewable fuels and using American resources to secure our energy independence to end our nation’s addiction to foreign oil,” Nussle said.

“In particular, his support of the Renewable Fuel Standard and a diversification of vehicle fleets and fueling systems is an essential tool in achieving increased market access for home-grown American energy and providing consumers with a choice when they fuel up," Nussle added.

But Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said Romney’s energy speech “was devoid of any policy specifics or concrete steps that would realistically increase our nation’s energy independence.”

“If anything, Romney’s policies would take us backward,” she said. “He wants to keep giving billions of dollars in tax subsidies to the big oil and gas companies and recklessly open new areas for drilling, but turn our back on increasing energy efficiency and developing our clean, homegrown energy sources.

“That’s not a recipe for energy independence,” Smith said. “It would only ensure that big oil’s profits continue to increase while we cede our clean energy sector, which is supporting jobs in states like Michigan, Ohio, and Iowa, to China.”

The livestock industry and several governors have proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency waive the RFS mandate during the current period of high corn prices, but Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Brandstad has urged EPA not to waive it.

Romney did not back away from his call for an end to the production tax credit for wind power that is set to expire at the end of the year even though Republicans in battle ground states such as Iowa support it.

”I think all energy sources need to stand on their own two feet,” Romney said in an interview with a Colorado TV station Thursday, arguing that wind and solar power are subsidized at a higher rate than oil.

“I would level the playing field,” according to AP report. Obama supports the wind production tax credit and has called for an end to tax breaks for the oil industry.