Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad vowed last week to continue to support farmers, agribusiness and rural communities by working against federal regulations that have reduced biofuel use, hurt commodity prices and threaten to make most farmland in Iowa subject to the Clean Water Act permitting requirements.
"With all of the issues that we are facing today in the markets, it’s shocking to see that the federal government continues to propose harmful regulations," Branstad told Farm Bureau members attending the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th annual meeting in Des Moines.
The governor highlighted two federal decisions that, he said, are a clear threat to Iowa agriculture: the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to lower the biofuel requirements in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule.
After the Nov. 30 announcement that EPA was reducing the biofuel requirements in the RFS, Branstad was contacted by the agency’s administrator Gina McCarthy. "I shared with her my deep disappointment and the frustration we have here in Iowa that the EPA is not supportive of farmers," Branstad said.
The governor also noted the irony of the Obama administration’s strong push to deal with climate change last week in Paris, while trimming biofuel requirements at home. "If we are going deal with climate change, the best thing we can possibly do is reduce our reliance on foreign oil coming from the Middle East and use more renewable energy made from corn and soybeans."
While continuing to support biofuels on the national level, Branstad said his administration was working to build Iowa’s ability to deliver more of the homegrown fuels to Iowa consumers. The state recently won a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help retailers offset the cost of installing blender pumps to provide consumers higher blends of ethanol, he said.
"By giving consumers a choice, we can prove that the demand for biofuels is there," he said.
Branstad also highlighted his opposition to the WOTUS rule, imposed by the EPA in the summer but later halted by court rulings, including one in North Dakota. Last month, Branstad announced that he had joined that lawsuit designed to stop the rule.
"I’m proud to say that I have joined officials from 13 other states in challenging WOTUS."