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Political Mercury

Walker: Phase out ethanol-boosting mandate in ‘couple of years’

9/9/2015

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker says he’d cut short the run of the of the Renewable

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker

Fuel Standard to a “couple of years.” The ethanol-boosting federal mandate supported by a raft of farm groups is scheduled to expire in 2022.

“I’d love to have a phase-out over time,” Walker said in Guthrie Center. When pressed on the matter, Walker said he’d end the standard before 2022.

The playing field needs to be leveled for energy resources, said Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, where he did not support a state ethanol mandate.

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“To me, that means taking whether it’s a standard, whether it’s a mandate with a subsidy, all those things should be leveled off over time and let the consumer decide,” Walker said.

The federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

Walker, who spoke to a mid-morning crowd of about 30 people at Prime Time on State Street in downtown Guthrie Center, said he doesn’t feel pressure from “big oil” on the standard and supports an “all of the above” energy strategy.

For his part, Gov. Terry Branstad says Iowa produces significantly more ethanol than it consumes in gasoline.

“The Iowa Department of Revenue tracks biofuels sales, and the data is clear: when given the choice, Iowans choose biofuels,” Branstad said.

According to the governor’s office, consumer purchases of E85 in Iowa continue to increase  — growing from 9.12 million gallons in 2012 to 11.15 million gallons in 2013, to 12.08 million gallons in 2014 — a growth of nearly 33 percent. Total B100 (100 percent biodiesel) sales in Iowa have expanded from 7.4 million gallons in 2010 to 33.3 million gallons in 2014. In 2010, the average blend level of biodiesel-blended gallons sold in Iowa was 3.1 percent and by 2014, the average blend level had more than tripled to 9.4 percent.

“As presidential candidates come to your community, encourage them to look at the well-established Iowa blueprint for energy independence and support a robust Renewable Fuel Standard, which has helped Iowa and the nation,” Branstad said.

Walker fielded questions on a wide range of issues at the Guthrie Center event. He supports photo IDs for voters, which he says makes it harder for people to cheat at the polls.

On foreign policy, Walker stressed strong support for Israel.

“There should be no daylight between our two countries,” Walker said.

He said the Iran nuclear agreement ironed out between that nation, the United States and other

leading countries, is a “starting gun” for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The governor called for stronger border security in the United States, and referenced his support of the Castle Doctrine, laws surrounding self-defense that mean homeowners don’t have to retreat when facing threats on their property and can use lethal force to protect themselves if necessary.

Tom Cornelius of Bagley, 66, semi-retired in the sports-car dealership business, said he is still evaluating the field of GOP White House candidates, but the Republican is attracted to Walker’s message.

“I think he’s proven himself to be able to get votes from the other side,” Cornelius said of the blue-state governor.

Myrna Beeber, chairwoman of the Guthrie County Republican Party, is neutral in the nomination process. That said, she sees Walker as having a natural connectivity with Iowa voters.

“For one thing, he answered every question that was asked,” Beeber said. “He didn’t walk a circle around any question. I hate those circle answers, when they don’t answer the question.”

She said Walker brings executive experience to the table, “which is always good.” CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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