The 2014 US Midterm elections: How the advanced bioeconomy industry saw it

November 5, 2014 |

US-capitolThe industry speaks – but what about your POV, too. We look for both.

Here are the highlights of industry association reaction to the US Midterms, in which US voters turned sharply right and handed control of the Senate and House to the Republican Party.

What’s your take on the election? Click here – we’re publishing a round-up of reader views on Friday.

Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs

“The biodiesel industry is proud to have a broad base of bipartisan and regionally diverse support on Capitol Hill, so I don’t think the partisan shift in the Senate will have much of an impact. But clearly we’ll have a lot of new members of Congress, in both the House and Senate, so all of us in the renewable fuels space will have to redouble our efforts to make sure these lawmakers know the real costs of our oil dependency and the real benefits of developing new American-made alternatives. It’s an ongoing education campaign and it takes hard work. But it’s also important to remember that the RFS was passed under President George W. Bush in 2005 with overwhelming bipartisan support. Many of the reasons it passed so easily back then may be even more relevant today when you look at oil profits flowing to groups like ISIS and the need for the U.S. to innovate and stay on top of the global competition for new energy technologies. We’ll be working hard to make sure the new members of Congress recognize that.”

Grant Kimberley, Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director

“The Iowa Biodiesel Board today offered its congratulations to last night’s election winners, and remains optimistic for the future of biodiesel policies in Washington. “We congratulate Iowa’s election winners, and look forward to working with all of them in the effort to diversify our nation’s fuel supply with biodiesel, America’s Advanced Biofuel. We are confident the new Senate and House winners will support biodiesel and biofuel issues. Having hosted Senator Joni Ernst at a biodiesel plant during the campaign, we were pleased to hear her declare strong support for biodiesel and the Renewable Fuel Standard to IBB members. IBB will continue to be a resource for her and all of our elected officials.

“Sen. Ernst and Rep. David Young in particular have strong ties to Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley, who have been tireless champions for biofuel and agriculture issues. We’re confident these newly elected officials will be just as supportive in providing leadership on these important issues. We also look forward to working with Rep. Rod Blum. Likewise, we believe the House incumbents, Reps. Dave Loebsack and Steve King, will continue to support biodiesel and our nation’s drive for smart, consistent federal energy policy. The economic and energy security benefits biodiesel provides are second to none, making the RFS one of the most effective policies we have.”

Republican Joni Ernst defeated Democrat Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate. Republicans Rod Blum and David Young also won the two open U.S. House seats, including the 1st District that had been held by Braley.

The biodiesel industry awaits final RFS volumes for 2014 from Washington, D.C. The last known proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons. That’s a sharp cut from last year’s production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons.

Corinne Young, Chief Advocate for re:chem

“The criticality of Congressional leadership is needed now more than ever.   Thank you to Members of the 113th Congress who cast aside partisan wangling to pass a Farm Bill that opens USDA loan guarantees to renewable chemical projects.  Next up is enacting parity with a renewable chemical production tax credit and TSCA reform, to level the global playing field, unleash a US manufacturing renaissance, drive jobs and cross sector ROI, and ensure global competitiveness in the fast moving multi billion dollar renewable chemicals sector, which has a projected double digit compounded market growth over the next few years.”

Tom Buis, CEO Growth Energy

“Despite the shift in the balance of power in the United States Senate, the renewable fuels industry had a strong night. Along with our existing supporters who were not up for reelection, many of our industry champions were reelected to their seats, while others were successful in securing bids to the US Senate.

“Biofuels policy is not a partisan issue, it has continued to receive strong bipartisan support and I am confident our champions will continue to defend the RFS. However, as an industry, we must continue to stay vigilant to ensure our interests are represented.  We will continue to work with our supporters on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we promote policies that help create jobs, improve our environment and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuel and foreign oil, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“With the outsized role oil played in funding many campaigns, our industry will have to be engaged and proactive in advocating for and defending policies that are critical to our growth and future.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association PAC Treasurer Walt Wendland

It’s not surprising that ethanol and biodiesel enjoy broad, bipartisan support in Iowa. It’s also encouraging to see that renewable fuels will remain in good hands in Iowa. We look forward to working with all of the 2014 election winners for state and federal offices to continue to preserve and advance Iowa’s leadership in renewable fuels production, agriculture and environmental stewardship.

In the races for federal office, Iowa elected Joni Ernst to the U.S. Senate, and David Young and Rod Blum to the U.S. House. Iowans also re-elected Governor Terry Branstad, and Reps. Steve King and Dave Loebsack. Each winning candidate reported strong support for renewable fuels and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in IRFA’s renewable fuels candidate survey. To view the survey results, please click here.

Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 3.8 billion gallons annually, including 22 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity and one cellulosic ethanol facility currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

Novozymes Americas President Adam Monroe

Voters gave strong support yesterday to biotechnology, electing candidates who have touted the benefits of innovation in the use of enzymes, microorganisms, and biopolymers for agriculture and energy.

Iowa Senator-elect Joni Ernst, South Dakota Senator-elect Mike Rounds, Nebraska Governor-elect Pete Ricketts, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad are all proponents of biotechnology as an economic driver.

Biotech is critical for creating a strong economy based on sustainable use of natural resources. We look forward to working with these elected officials who understand the importance of innovative biotechnology.

I would like to congratulate all of these candidates on their victories. We look forward to working with them as we build and grow the biotechnology industry.

AGRICULTURE

For the past decade, South Dakota Senator-elect Rounds has pushed to attract biotech companies to his state. In 2011, he spoke at the Livestock Biotech Summit on the “global importance of biotechnology in agriculture, medicine, and energy.”

Nebraska Governor-elect Ricketts has been a strong proponent of innovative agriculture, saying that “it boosts farm and ranch income [and] creates new opportunities for young people.”

Iowa Governor Branstad grew up on a farm and this year defended modern agriculture against “outside groups that have little knowledge.”

RENEWABLE FUELS

During the campaign, Iowa Senator-elect Ernst expressed her support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, saying that “the RFS is important to Iowa and our economy. I have always been a supporter of and an advocate for the RFS.”
Senator-elect Rounds said that he supports the RFS because it “allows the ethanol industry to mature.” He also said that “at this stage of the game, E15 works.”

In August, Governor-elect Ricketts visited and toured the Novozymes production facility in Nebraska, which produces enzymes for the biofuels industry. On his website, Ricketts says that he supports the RFS and opposes the EPA’s proposed cuts. He says also that he supports “encouraging higher blend levels, locally and across the nation.”

Iowa Governor Branstad also said that cutting biofuel targets in the RFS would be “disastrous to Iowa and the upper Midwest.”

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