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Cruz, Branstad Continue Ethanol Feud

Globe Gazette Des Moines Bureau

January 25, 2016

By James Q Lynch and Rod Boshart

Another day, another round in the Ted Cruz-Terry Branstad battle over ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard.

The Iowa Republican governor stood by his comment that he wants to see the Texas senator defeated in Iowa’s GOP precinct caucuses Feb. 1 because of Cruz’s opposition to the RFS. It was created by Congress in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing dependence on imported oil. It requires transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.

“They asked me a point-blank question, I gave them a one-word answer,” Branstad said when asked Monday about his comment last week that Cruz should be defeated. “I gave an honest answer to a point-blank question, and you know me, that’s the kind of person that I am.”

Branstad said he’s the kind of person who will “fight for and stand up for things that are important to my state, and certainly farm income and jobs are among those.”

However, Cruz wasn’t backing off his position that ethanol should not enjoy a mandate that, he said, makes Iowa and Iowa corn farmers dependent on Washington.

“The lobbyists very much want Iowa to stay focused on the RFS,” Cruz told more than 100 people who crowded into the Fireside Pub & Steakhouse in Manchester. “If every year Iowa has to go back to the Washington politicians and say ‘keep this Band-Aid in place,’ it means the lobbyists will be paid each and every year. It means the politicians get paid each and every year.”

Branstad pointed out that since the EPA reduced the volume of renewable fuel that must be included in transportation fuel it’s been farmers who aren’t getting paid. The price of corn has dropped below the cost of production, he said.

“That has hurt not only farm income but it’s caused layoffs by John Deere and Kinze Manufacturing and others,” Branstad said at his weekly news conference.

As a result of his position on ethanol and Cruz, Branstad has been attacked by a pro-Cruz political action committee, Conservative Solutions. It is airing radio ads saying Cruz would stand up to “lobbyists, thugs and the politicians they own. Branstad and Trump. Branstad values, Trump values …”

“It’s interesting,” Branstad said. “I’m being attacked by Hillary Clinton and now I’m being attacked by a lobbyist group that’s supporting Ted Cruz.

“But listen, I’ve been attacked and I’ve been attacked regularly by a lot of people, but that doesn’t bother me, because I recognize that my responsibility is to the people of Iowa and to be an advocate and a supporter of things that are important to them,” the governor said.

Cruz said he doesn’t have it in for Branstad or ethanol, but believes that Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in energy or any other marketplace.

“My view on energy is that God has blessed this nation with abundant resources and we should pursue all of them,” he said.

Branstad agrees there’s room in the marketplace for other energy sources.

“I’m proud to stand up and support all of those jobs at the ethanol plants, the biodiesel plants, the people who are working to make wind turbines and blades and towers, and the farmers who are getting income from selling their corn to ethanol plants and buying (dried distiller’s grain) to feed their cattle,” he said. “This is important to our state’s economy and I want to make sure that the voters of Iowa are knowledgeable and well-informed on all of the candidates and that they get out and vote in those caucuses because it’s important to our economy.”

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