RFS is Iowa’s Battle Ground with EPA & Presidential Hopefuls


Annette Sweeney

Guest blog post by Annette Sweeney, co-chair of America’s Renewable Future campaign

My husband and I still live and work on the farm where I grew up and where we raised our two sons. Both of our sons are pursuing careers in agriculture, and we want to help make it possible for future generations to have this option. That’s why it’s so important that Americans elect a president, who values on our way of life and understands the value of U.S. agriculture.

Agricultural issues impact on our economy, and there is no single issue that merits more discussion and support than the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Although the RFS has been in headlines recently, ethanol has been used as a fuel for more than a century.

The battle between Big Oil and ethanol dates back to 1826 when Samuel Morey used alcohol to fuel the first internal combustion engine prototype. Henry Ford, who founded Ford Motor Co. in 1903, was a big proponent of what he called “the fuel of the future.” Ford’s first “flex-fuel vehicle” was introduced in 1908 as the Model T could run on ethanol or gasoline. It was cost-effective and convenient for farmers to make their own fuel, but “homegrown fuel” was considered to be too much competition for those with oil interests. Prohibition in the 1920s was not so much about keeping Dad or Grandpa out of the tavern as it about creating demand for oil and bolstering gas prices.

Protecting Big Oil interests continues be the impetus of the battle being waged today. We’ve got a fight this election cycle against the monolithic and powerful outside influences of the likes of Big Oil that will pour millions upon millions of dollars to defeat the RFS and smear this successful policy with their lies. In 2013, anti-ethanol influences spent almost $70 million in advertising and promotion and over $9 million in lobbying.

We must make sure our side of the story gets told because the Renewable Fuels Standard is American success story. The RFS is the only major U.S. policy that is reducing harmful greenhouse emissions, and it has already displaced millions of barrels of imported oil. Ethanol is perfectly safe for engines and actually provides higher quality and higher-octane fuel that improves engine performance. Ethanol is better than traditional fuel, which is precisely why NASCAR runs on American-made ethanol.

ModelTThe Renewable Fuel Standard, which was originally mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2007, requires renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into transportation fuel by an increasing amount each year. Despite its lack of statutory authority to do so, the EPA last year proposed cutting minimum ethanol use.

The EPA has yet to issue a final decision, but we’re already seeing the effects of the uncertainty surrounding the RFS. Corn prices are lower and many ethanol plants have decreased production and employment. We must help protect 73,000 jobs in Iowa plus 400,000 related jobs nationwide that are related to ethanol production. Protecting the RFS is about protecting farm income plus promoting homegrown renewable fuels instead of conflict-ridden foreign energy sources.

I urge you to stand with me! Please pledge to stand by a presidential candidate who will be a true supporter of the RFS. Together we can protect our livelihoods and our Iowa way of life by standing behind the RFS this election.In the words of Governor Terry E. Branstad at the first-ever Ag Summit, “Don’t mess with the RFS!”