The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association on August 23 issued a press release applauding Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican candidate for U.S. president, for highlighting his support for the federal Renewable Fuels Standard as a part of his presidential energy plan released last week. Given the existing near monopoly petroleum enjoys for transportation fuels, the RFS injects new consumer choices and competition into the marketplace. Romney first spoke publicly about his support for the RFS at a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa during the Iowa Caucuses earlier this year.
"Gov. Romney understands that true fueling freedom requires the ability of consumers to choose -- and the RFS is the bedrock policy to break the petroleum monopoly," stated IRFA vice president Rick Schwarck. He is CEO of Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant in St. Ansgar in northern Iowa.
Breaking down barriers, allowing new fuels to enter marketplace is key to consumer choice
Schwarck continues, "Today, the petroleum industry enjoys federal tax subsidies, federal fuel regulations that literally mandate consumers purchase petroleum products for their vehicles, and a fuel distribution monopoly that chokes out competition from newer, cheaper, domestic fuels. We need a level playing field with true consumer choice that would boost renewable fuels, create American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
However, another strong supporter of ethanol was disappointed in Romney's energy plan. Bruce Rohwer is a corn farmer from Paullina in northwest Iowa, and an officer in the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He issued the following statement on August 23, in response to Romney's energy plan that was released earlier in that day.
Northwest Iowa farmer and ethanol booster is skeptical of Romney energy plan
Rowher says, "As a farmer who has seen the promise of alternative fuels up close, I am deeply disappointed by Mitt Romney's Energy Plan that just fuels our nation's continuing addiction to oil instead of investing in the alternative fuels of the future. In fact, the words "ethanol" and "biodiesel" appear absolutely nowhere in his document. In Iowa today 83,000 jobs are tied to the biofuels industry. President Obama's sincere support for ethanol and biodiesel has given our nation a diversified energy portfolio."
Rohwer adds, "Imports of foreign oil are at their lowest in 16 years. Mitt Romney's disastrous energy plan would halt all that progress in a flash. If he truly cared about achieving energy independence by 2020, he'd recognize and embrace the renewable energy sectors that Iowans, on a bipartisan basis, now have led to more uses of homegrown energy and less on imported foreign oil."
Ethanol is affordable, reliable, creates jobs and strengthens national security
The Romney energy plan states that it seeks an affordable, reliable energy supply that creates manufacturing jobs and strengthens national security while reducing the trade deficit. Schwarck noted that ethanol checks all those boxes.
"Just review the facts," Schwarck says. "First, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and much cheaper than comparable octane enhancers. In fact, Iowa State University found that the current level of ethanol use reduces the price of every gallon of gas in America by over a dollar. Second, the ethanol industry has been one of the few growing domestic manufacturing sectors over the last decade, responsible for over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. Finally, ethanol now accounts for 25% of our domestic fuel production -- a full quarter."
U.S. needs an energy policy that stops propping up subsidized petroleum
Schwarck adds, "And by displacing fuel otherwise produced from foreign oil, ethanol has helped reduce America's net foreign oil dependence from over 60% in 2005 (the year the RFS was signed into law) to only 45% in 2011. Enacting an energy policy that stops propping up subsidized petroleum and eliminates barriers that prevent the best fuels for succeeding will only enhance these benefits."
Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.7 billion gallons annually and one new facility under construction.
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. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at www.IowaRFA.org