Tuesday in Sioux Center, Bernie Punt — the former manager of an ethanol plant who is now an executive with an ethanol production company, asked Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz where he stood on the Renewable Fuels Standard.
AUDIO of Punt and Cruz, courtesy of KLEM Radio
Cruz got a similar line of questioning from during a campaign stop in Cherokee. According to staff for America’s Renewable Future, the woman asking the question was Julie French, an investor in a local ethanol plant.
AUDIO of Cruz in Cherokee, as provided by America’s Renewable Future.
In March, at the Iowa Ag Summit, Cruz was asked a similar question by host Bruce Rastetter, the agribusinessman who hosted the summit.
AUDIO of that part of the Rastetter/Cruz exchange, which happened right after Cruz sat down on stage.
Cruz has been trailed around Iowa this week by the group America’s Renewable Future, headed by Eric Branstad, the eldest son of Governor Terry Branstad, to highlight Cruz’s opposition to the RFS. The group issued the following statement today:
Senator Ted Cruz listens to Iowa farmers, supports Renewable Fuel Standard through 2022
SIOUX CENTER—During a bus tour stop in Sioux Center, Iowa last night, Senator Ted Cruz expressed support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022.
Responding to a question from an ethanol investor from Iowa about whether he would allow the landmark energy program to continue through its current expiration in 2022, Sen. Cruz responded by expressing support for the RFS through 2022.
Senator Cruz also expressed passionate support for breaking through the so-called “blendwall.” “That blendwall makes it illegal for ethanol to expand its market penetration, and I intend to eliminate the EPA blendwall to get rid of that barrier, which will enable ethanol to expand in the marketplace to a much larger penetration to sell more ethanol….”
The comments were substantially repeated at another stop in Cherokee, Iowa the same evening.
In response to Sen. Cruz’s statements, ARF state director Eric Branstad said: “Farmers and rural communities across Iowa are going to be encouraged by Sen. Cruz’s remarks. He is clearly listening to the people of Iowa and understands the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to America’s economy and energy independence, as he started the caucus process calling for immediate repeal. While not perfect, this is a big step forward by Sen. Cruz.”
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Senator Cruz, says in 2013 Cruz proposed a five-year phrase out of the RFS and, if he’s elected president, Cruz would like to start the phase out in 2017. That would end the RFS in 2022, when it is already scheduled to end under current law. Frazier says Cruz discussed the five-year phase out during a September appearance on RFD-TV.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz supports a five-year phase-out of the so-called “Renewable Fuels Standard” that sets annual ethanol production levels for the country. Last night in Cherokee, Cruz said Iowans are being “snookered” about the RFS.
“You know, a lot of corn farmers, a lot of people in Iowa have been led to believe by the lobbyists that the RFS is the ‘holy grail’, but the RFS ensures that Washington remains front and center,” Cruz said earlier Tuesday, in Sioux Center. “It ensures that corn farmers have to go on bended knees to politicians in Washington, seeking their regular support and mandates.”
Under current federal law, the Renewable Fuels Standard will end in 2022. Cruz co-sponsored a senate bill in 2013 that would have triggered a five-year phrase out of the RFS. According to Cruz, a better answer is improving market access and Cruz promises as president he would end federal regulations that effectively prevent refineries from making higher blends of ethanol, like E15 and E30.
Cruz has been trailed this week in Iowa by America’s Renewable Future, a pro-ethanol group that’s headed by Eric Branstad, the oldest son of Republican Governor Terry Branstad, and Cruz is taking issue with their efforts.
“Now I recognize, particularly as our campaign has gained more and more support, as we’ve seen conservatives uniting behind our campaign, that a coalition of lobbyists and Democrats have gotten together and are spending an awful lot of money trying to convince you that somehow Ted Cruz opposes corn farmers,” Cruz said in Sioux Center. “I’ll tell you the straight truth: it is utter nonsense.”
Eric Branstad issued a written statement today saying Cruz “started the Caucus process” by calling for an “immediate” repeal and has been swayed by Iowa farmers, but a spokeswoman for Cruz says the senator first called for a gradual phase out of the RFS in 2013. On Tuesday night in Sioux Center, the former manager of an ethanol plant cornered Cruz on the issue.
“I came tonight because I wanted to get the straight scoop,” the man said.
The man was Bernie Punt of Sioux Center, who is now an executive with an ethanol production company.
“I’m getting two stories about the Ted Cruz campaign. One pretty well-circulated story is stay away from him because he’s opposed to the RFS,” Punt said. “I had a call today from a very good friend of mine, very trusted source that says: ‘You’ve got to get the facts on Ted Cruz. We’ve met with him a few times and he’s going to tell you a different story.’”
Cruz offered this answer to Punt.
“I support ethanol. I support biofuels…but I also believe government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers, that it shouldn’t be Washington deciding one energy source over another, so in my view we should end all of the mandates and all of the subsidies,” Cruz said, to applause.
In March, during an agricultural forum in Des Moines, Cruz said ethanol has become a “major player in the industry” and demand for ethanol will continue without the federal mandate. Cruz said if refiners and the oil industry try to block market access, the ethanol industry should file an anti-trust lawsuit.