Do Presidential Candidates Support Biofuels?

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Texas Governor Rick Perry's plan puts oil in "most favored" position.

Published on: Nov 19, 2011

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Assocation is putting the U.S. presidential candidates on the spot, trying to pin them down about their true positions on renewable fuels issues that affect ethanol and biodiesel production and use.

IRFA leaders are calling on Texas Governor Rick Perry to reconsider his plan for 20 more years of oil subsidies. The Iowa renewable fuels group says the Perry Energy Plan puts oil in "most favored" position. Meanwhile, other presidential candidates are also being called on the carpet by IRFA. For example, IRFA is urging U.S. Representative Michelle Bachman to tell Iowans where she stands on the Renewable Fuels Standard. Bachman, a member of Congress from Minnesota, is spending a lot of time in Iowa these days campaigning for the Republican nomination for president. IRFA says both of these two presidential candidates have dodged biofuel issues that are of great importance to Iowans.

IRFA calls on Gov. Perry to reconsider 20 more years of oil subsidies

With U.S. presidential candidate Rick Perry returning to Iowa to campaign last week, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association called upon the Texas governor to reconsider his plan for energy tax incentives. After the IRFA pointed out that Perry's energy plan would end ethanol tax credits in less than two months, but allow oil tax subsidies to continue indefinitely, a Perry spokeswoman told Bloomberg News that Perry would "work with Congress to phase" out oil subsidies "over the next 20 years."

"How in the world does Governor Perry justify 20 more years of tax subsidies for oil companies?" asks IRFA president Walt Wendland. "The renewable tax credits cease at the end of this year. But despite that some of the oil subsidies go back 100 years, now we're told that Perry wants to give oil companies another 20 years of subsidies. Given this extreme position, Perry's talk about not picking winners and losers and having a level playing field is simply hollow rhetoric."

IRFA has pointed out that Governor Rick Perry's energy plan favors oil in several ways. In addition to favoring unfair tax benefits for oil, governor Perry:

Opposes the federal renewable fuels standard (RFS) but his energy plan would leave intact the "federal petroleum mandate" – mandating that over 95% of vehicles on the road be filled with a fuel that is a minimum of 85% petroleum;

Is the only candidate for the Republican nomination campaigning in Iowa that has not opposed an effort by Texas Congressmen to ban E15 (15% ethanol blends), a domestic alternative to foreign oil; and,

Laid out 18 specific policy recommendations in his energy plan to promote the production and use of oil and natural gas, but not a single policy recommendation to promote the production and use of renewable fuels.

"Governor Perry's energy plan puts domestic, renewable fuels at a severe disadvantage to oil, even imported oil," concludes Wendland.  "The Perry energy plan is not good for Iowa's economy or America's security." For more information go to

IRFA calls on Rep. Bachmann to tell Iowans where she stands on RFS

With presidential candidate Michele Bachmann traveling throughout Iowa last week, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association called upon the Minnesota Representative to tell Iowans where she stands on the federal renewable fuels standard (RFS), an issue important to the quarter of a million Iowans who rely on Iowa's agricultural economy.

In a letter to Rep. Bachmann, IRFA president Walt Wendland wrote: "As a neighboring Minnesotan who was born in Iowa, you know the large, positive impact renewable fuels have had on rural economies, farm income and US energy security. That is why IRFA has been disappointed to be unable to get an answer to a question central to the future of renewable fuels and rural economic growth.  IRFA would simply like to know: as president, would you support and protect the federal renewable fuels standard?"

Presidential candidate has dodged issue of great importance to Iowans

Bachmann has been asked her position on the RFS at least four times in the past few weeks, but each time she either refuses to answer or her staff intervenes to whisk her away. Bachmann has been asked about the RFS by an ethanol supporter, an ethanol plant CEO, the IRFA executive director and even Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. The encounters, all on videotape, can be viewed at

Wendland continues: "Campaigning for president in Iowa is about more than signing autographs and answering the easy questions. Iowans expect clear answers on the important issues of the day and the RFS is an important issue to thousands of Iowans…In order to unlock the many benefits of renewable fuels, federal policy must stop putting new fuels at a disadvantage to the entrenched oil interests content on keeping the U.S. dependent on oil from countries that, at best, don't like us and, at worst, are funding terrorist attacks against us. That was why President George W. Bush signed the renewable fuels standard into law.  That is why the RFS has been supported by officials from the Reagan and Bush White Houses."

Walt Wendland is the CEO of Golden Grain Energy, an ethanol plant at Mason City, and Iowa Homeland Energy Solutions near Lawler, Iowa.  He is currently serving his second term as President of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.