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By Staff | Nov 25, 2011

The National Corn Growers Association asked the GOP presidential candidates the following questions on Energy: “1.) Do you support a holistic approach to energy policy, including support for corn based ethanol? 2.) Will you support the federal Renewable Fuels Standard of at least 36 billion gallons (at least 15 billion from corn), and maintain support for corn based ethanol on the national level? and 3.) Will you support maximum funding for ethanol infrastructure, with a focus on programs such as grants or tax credits for blender’s pumps and E85 pumps, or an ethanol pipeline?”

The questions are far too specific to get much of an answer from a politician. As Rick Perry has said, he gives the answers he wants to give regardless of the question asked. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association confronted the candidates face-to-face at the recent Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Candidate Forum.

Here are the candidate responses that they reported receiving.

Herman Cain was asked if he will support the federal renewable fuels standard. His response was, “I don’t want to comment on that because I need to look at all the details inside of that before I say yes or no.”

Newt Gingrich was also asked if he believed Gov. Perry’s energy plan allowing oil subsidies to continue is the right policy for America. His response was, “If you’re the Governor of Texas, it’s probably the right policy…. It’s the wrong policy for America.”

Michele Bachmann was asked if she supported the RFS. In response she looked to her aides who stated she had an interview to get to and she simply walked away.

Perry and Rep. Ron Paul also addressed the crowd, but did not speak with an Iowa Fuel with Pride representative.

Cain is busy focusing on his memory. His staff is too busy to think about ethanol. For Bachman, if it hasn’t got something to do with making Obama a one-term president, she has no interest in it. In recent weeks, several ethanol supporters have attempted to ask Rep. Bachmann whether or not she supports the RFS. Despite answering other questions and signing numerous autographs, for the fourth time in just a couple weeks, Bachmann’s staff whisked her away when IFWP attempted to ask the RFS question.

I think it is safe to say that Rick Perry is the most anti-ethanol candidate running for president. He has lobbied and opposed not only ethanol blender’s credit, which expires at year end, but also the RFS and even E-15, the latter of which is free-choice, something otherwise espoused as ideologically favored by the Tea Party.

It is amazing how these polls make exceptions to ideology when it comes to attacking ethanol. They oppose all tax increases except for the one on ethanol. Perry is the consummate crony-capitalist.

His public support plunges, yet the money rolls in. That is, oil money trying to keep their man in the running. Perry reportedly took $1.3 million in private jet flights from corporations and private donors.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association issued a stinging assessment of Perry’s stand on energy, which it views as anti-ethanol and pro-petroleum. “If Perry were the next president, you would see a severe rollback in ethanol production, and it would have a severe impact on farm income and jobs in Iowa,” said Monte Shaw, a spokesman for the fuels association and a Republican Party of Iowa Central Committee member.

That trip to Washington was specifically intended to undo the success that produced record net Corn Belt farm income in the employ of the NCBA and American Petroleum Institute to gut the RFS.

Perry is the most anti-Iowa interests’ candidate ever to run for the nomination. Candidates’ positions on ethanol subsidies, referring to the blender’s credit, really don’t matter anymore, as it is history and has been conceded by the industry. Subsidies, gone … now they are coming after the RFS and E-15.

The exceptions are Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. They are both on record as totally supporting ethanol. Newt can crush any of the ethanol naysayers with the strength of his intellect and weight of his argument. He understands the history and relevance of ethanol to U.S. energy policy to a depth the others would drown in.

Mitt is for ethanol but if someone says that, “He did a Romney,” everyone knows exactly what that meant. His position evolves faster and more opportunistically than most candidates. I hope that Romney doesn’t do a “Romney” on ethanol.

Gov;. Branstad asked Gingrich how the U.S. becomes energy independent and reduces the stranglehold the Middle East has on us. Gingrich responded that he would like to see some kind of encouragement for every vehicle to have flex-fuel capabilities and every gas station to be a fuel station, not just a gas station.

Asked about the RFS, former Speaker of the House Gingrich said, “The Renewable Fuels Standards are vital for the United States.” Gingrich also spoke about ethanol during his remarks to the dinner crowd, saying, “I believe if my choice is for money to Iran or go to Iowa, I pick Iowa.” So do I.

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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