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Republicans Take Back the House…. What Does it Mean for the U.S. Ethanol Industry?

November 3, 2010

           

This morning I hosted a press call regarding the 2010 Election and what impacts it might have on the ethanol industry. As the Republicans made tremendous gains last night, it is anticipated that this town will become more Republican in January. However, with this change, there will be no meaningful impact on the U.S. ethanol industry. Ethanol is not now, nor has it ever been a partisan issue. There were strong ethanol proponents that lost last night – Earl Pomeroy, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. But there were many more ethanol advocates that won last night too – Chuck Grassley, Mark Kirk, and John Shimkus. And, more importantly, for the most part those that may have been defeated were replaced with equally strong advocates for value added agriculture and ethanol. Over the past three decades, the RFA has worked with the industry and Congress to implement thoughtful policy that has moved America's domestic renewable fuels industry forward.  Under a Democratic Congress and Republican Administration, we helped to pass important amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 that meaningfully opened the market for ethanol.  In 2005, with federal government under Republican control, we helped pass the first Renewable Fuels Standard requiring the use of renewable fuels.  In 2007, with a Republican in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, we expanded the RFS five-fold.  And time and again, we have worked with both parties to secure responsible tax policies to ensure ethanol and other renewable fuels could compete with the oil industry in the market.  That's because energy security, rural economic development and fuel choice are not partisan issues, they are priorities for all Americans.  None of that changed last night. What is clear to me is that this election was about the economy and jobs.  More than half of the electorate went to the polls believing the economy was the single most important issue.  No other issue – the environment, the deficit, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – polled in double digits.  Allowing the tax incentive (VEETC) to expire at the end of this year would risk jobs in a very important domestic energy sector and across rural America.  It would halt and reverse investments in clean energy technology.  I believe, strongly, Congress must extend the incentive before adjournment. Beyond the legislative agenda, much of the Lame Duck session will inevitably be focused on organizing the 112th Congress.  The presumptive new Speaker, John Boehner of Ohio, has been a strong voice for farmers and a proponent of ethanol over his career.  We look forward to working with the new House Leadership team.  There will also be several new Chairmen, and while it is not clear today who they may be, again we will continue to work constructively with them to pursue policies that will allow the continued evolution in the biofuels industry. Working together, the entire biofuels industry can educate new and veteran lawmakers alike on the importance of domestic renewable fuel production and help ensure sound public policies open markets and allow biofuels to compete against entrenched fossil fuels that currently dominate our energy, economic and environmental landscape. These are exciting times and we are eager to get to work. Read my full remarks here. Listen to an audio version of my remarks here. Listen to the Q&A portion of the press call here.