Iowa Public Television


Push for Ethanol Continues as President Leaves Biofuels out of State of the Union

posted on February 3, 2014

Bitterly cold weather and increased demand are fueling a sharp increase in the cost of propane.

The average residential price rose over 300 percent in the past week alone climbing to just over $4 per gallon. Midwest customers have been hardest hit as prices there hover near $4.50 per gallon.

Fuel costs are rising despite a renaissance in domestic energy production. U.S. crude oil output has surged by nearly 60 percent over the past five years, while imports have declined by more than 20 percent.

Renewable fuels proponents say their products also reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. And an Obama Administration proposal cutting the amount of ethanol in U.S. gasoline encountered strident opposition again this week in a leading farm state.

Push for Ethanol Continues as President Leaves Biofuels out of State of the Union

Voices in the Midwest continued to be raised in opposition over proposed changes to the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS.

Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa: “Oil companies hate ethanol.”

With less than 24 hours remaining before the Environmental Protection Agency's comment period closed, many of the same players present at last week’s Hearing in the Heartland were in attendance at the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held just outside Iowa’s capitol city of Des Moines.

Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association: “Oil companies paid for this big study...”

Joining the list of regulars banging the drum for ethanol was the familiar voice of the president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association: “I think what EPA proposed is monumentally stupid. And for EPA to be saying, 'Well, Exxon says there may be a problem here. We gotta roll it back.' I'm sorry. I have trouble understanding why this administration would try to change a program that has been so successful to accommodate Exxon Mobil.”

In response to EPA’s proposal to cut 1.4 billion gallons of annual ethanol production from the Renewable Fuels Standard more than 15,500 comments have been submitted.

Even billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, who has invested heavily in America’s vast natural gas resources, cast his vote for ethanol.

T. Boone Pickens, BP Capital: "Well, I said what I thought of ethanol. It's American and I like anything American....We import about half of what we produce. And half of the half comes from OPEC. That is what I focus on, and have for some time, is get off the enemies oil. That when you are buying oil from OPEC, not from every one of the countries, but some part of what you're paying gets into the hands of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”

Biofuels, a common talking point in State of the Union speeches since the Carter administration, were left completely out of the annual message and upstaged by natural gas.

President Barrack Obama: “...and today, America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades.  One of the reasons why is natural gas -- if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” 

Tags: Bob Dinneen ethanol Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit natural gas President Barack Obama T. Boone Pickens


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