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By Staff | Mar 4, 2011

Editor’s note: David Kruse is traveling. This week’s column is written by John Jensen, director of information services for CommStock Investments Inc.

The expression, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” came to mind as I listened to Newt Gingrich’s presentation at the Iowa Renewable fuels Association Fifth Annual Summit in Des Moines.

If a political person is in Iowa, talking to farmers in January, then he is probably a presidential candidate. Gingrich didn’t bring up the subject, but it was surely on the minds of those listening to him as he sounded like a presidential candidate with a speech peppered with applause.

Gingrich was introduced as supporting renewable fuels when renewable fuels weren’t cool. He took his first vote on a gasohol bill in 1984. Gingrich said his interest in renewable fuels came from two different backgrounds.

First, he taught environmental studies at West Georgia College so he had a real interest in the environment and in finding renewal fuels, and in response to the oil shock of the 1970s looking for ways to increase American energy production.

Secondly, his dad was a career military soldier for 27 years which gave Gingrich a very deep national security interest and after the oil shock of the 1970s he said, “It seemed to me we were utterly foolish as a country to be sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to finance people who don’t necessary like us, some who have recently proven they would like to kill us … it’s fairly foolish to finance your enemies.”

Gingrich continued with his thoughts on an American Energy Plan.

“It’s clear to me that we need an American Energy Plan that is designed for good environmental reasons, designed for good economic reasons, and designed for good national security reasons.

“If we kept $400 billion at home to buy energy, we would be dramatically better off. And frankly, I would rather have the next building boom in Des Moines than in Dubai.” Doesn’t that sound like a presidential candidate?

Gingrich turned his attention to where we need to go from here. “The biggest single need in getting America to be capable of providing its own fuel is to maximize the development of flex fuel vehicles.

“There is zero reason for the auto manufacturers not to produce flex fuel cars. And there is zero reason to tolerate their resistance.”

Flex fuel vehicles make sense from a national security reason and from consumer choice. And Gingrich added that he has been told it takes a $100 modification to make that happen. The government already mandates what is on our vehicles (belts, airbags, catalectic converters, etc). Why is it so hard to mandate flex fuel? Gingrich also doesn’t understand why it took the EPA so long to reach its decision on E-15 although the EPA speaker later in the day gave his explanation, which had to do with protecting the consumer.

“You don’t want to get into a regimen where there are three different pumps,” warned Gingrich. “You want to go to a single regime based on safety and the single regime clearly ought to be E15 and I have yet to see any evidence that it shouldn’t be.”

Gingrich’s answer to biofuel critics is to develop an Environmental Solutions Agency to replace the Environmental Protection Agency. “An ESA would get up every morning and say ‘Yes, you can do that if…’ and then they would set standards we would have to meet. And they’d go out and find incentives to meet the standards.

“The EPA gets up every morning and says, ‘No, you can’t do that because …’ and they are hostile to all new technology, hostile to local community control, hostile to the business community, hostile to the market place.”

Gingrich sounded like a cheerleader as he concluded his remarks:

“Let’s maximize the rate at which we develop new breakthroughs in biology. Let’s maximize the rate at which we can bring those breakthroughs to productivity whether it is in health, food, materials technology, or energy.

“Let’s maximize the rate at which rural America has the opportunity to create its own wealth, process its own products, develop its own incomes, so that Americans have the choice of living in small towns if they want, and living in rural America if they want, as well as living in big cities. There’s no reason we can’t design this kind of a very positive future.”

It sure sounded like Candidate Gingrich to me.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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