King touts ethanol support

GOWRIE – A federal rule that requires a certain amount of ethanol to be used each year is key to providing market access for the renewable fuel, according to U.S. Rep. Steve King.

The Republican from Kiron restated his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard Wednesday during a visit to the POET Biorefining – Gowrie ethanol plant in Webster County.

“RFS is market access,” he said.

He added that the standard is not a subsidy for the ethanol industry.

King represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes Webster County and all of its surounding counties. He faces Democrat Jim Mowrer, of Boone, in the November election.

King met with POET Biorefining managers and some farmers who are investors in the ethanol plant on 320th Street.

Rob Walther, the director of federal affairs for POET Biorefining, thanked King for his support of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“If we had every member of Congress as supportive as you are of the RFS and of our industry we would be off foreign oil by now,” he said. “We would be enjoying up to a dollar less at the pump.”

Early this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed changing the Renewable Fuels Standard in a way that would result in less ethanol being used. A final decision has yet to be made on that proposed change.

King and the rest of Iowa’s congressional delegation are opposed to the change.

“We’ve got an EPA that has apparently gone back and done a political analysis rather than a market and a grain availability analysis,” he said.

He said the EPA’s proposal is hard to justify in light of the abundant corn crop now maturing in Iowa fields.

A scaled-back Renewable Fuels Standard isn’t the only threat the ethanol industry faces, according to Walther. He said the oil industry wants to use just enough ethanol to meet octane and clean air requirements. But using any more than that would displace oil, he said, and so the oil companies are opposed to doing that.

He said the oil companies have placed clauses in contracts with gasoline retailers that prevent them from selling greater amounts of ethanol.

“They’ve done everything they can to try and keep us out of the market,” he said.

“This is a market correction, not corporate welfare,” he said of the RFS.

In an unrelated matter, King took some credit for the immigration bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Friday night.

“I had written most of this legislation in the past that actually was passed by the House on Friday night,” he said.

The House bill provides $694 million for border security efforts. It also shuts down a program in which the administration of President Barack Obama proposed to defer the deportation of about 700,000 people brought to the United States illegally as children.

“We did something good, and it’s one of those times that I came back from Washington thinking the system finally worked the way it is supposed to,” he said.