Iowa renewable fuels leader downplays campaign kerfuffle over federal standard

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DES MOINES — A leader for Iowa’s renewable fuels producers said Friday he is not concerned with the haggling between the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this week over Trump’s support for the federal ethanol mandate.

A policy piece published Thursday by the Trump campaign said he would repeal a piece of the ethanol mandate that is popular in Iowa because of the mandate’s reliance on corn.

An updated version of the policy piece does not list the ethanol mandate as a program Trump would cut in any way. The Trump campaign said the original piece was published in error.

Democrats pounced, claiming it showed the Republican candidate is wavering in his support for the ethanol mandate and said Clinton is an ardent supporter.

“Donald Trump showed Iowans his true colors with his secret plan to destroy the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Pam Johnson, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association and a corn grower from Floyd, said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign. “Iowans are proud of our state’s renewable fuel economy, and Donald Trump’s dangerous policy proposal would damage Iowa’s economic security and our rural communities.”

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement the campaign’s “commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard is unshakeable and unchanging.”

Eric Branstad, the son of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, led an advocacy organization that pressed candidates to support the mandate during the Iowa caucuses and now serves as Trump’s state director in Iowa.

“Mr. Trump’s position has not changed; the fact sheet on the website accurately reflects his positions,” Branstad said in a statement.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and a former Republican candidate for Congress, said he is not concerned Trump may not be supportive of the ethanol mandate. He noted Trump repeatedly has expressed his support for the ethanol mandate in public speeches.

“To be honest with you, I’m not any more worked up over this than I was when some Clinton staffer went out to California and floated the (idea) of replacing the RFS with their low-carbon fuel standard,” Shaw said.

The Clinton campaign in August confirmed a campaign aide discussed California’s low-carbon fuel standard and the ethanol mandate with a state official but said Clinton does not wish to replace the ethanol mandate with California’s fuel standard.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2017 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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