Clinton Campaign Says Candidate Supporting Ethanol Blend But Not Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

Hillary Clinton’s campaign dismissed a media report Thursday that the Democratic presidential candidate might be making big changes to the federal mandate that ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

The Clinton campaign confirmed that one of its aides had met with a California official to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which governs the ethanol blend and other biofuels. They’d also discussed California’s low-carbon fuel standard and other topics. Reuters had reported that discussion was a sign that Clinton, if elected president, could be adjusting the RFS.

Clinton does not support replacing the existing RFS with one that requires lower-carbon fuels, Tyrone Gayle, a Clinton campaign spokesperson, told USA Today.

“As Hillary Clinton said repeatedly during the primary, she is committed to getting the RFS back on track and making sure the US remains a leader in advanced biofuels,” said Gayle. “While we have engaged a wide range of stakeholders and experts throughout the campaign on biofuels and other issues, we do not support replacing the RFS with a national low-carbon fuel standard.”

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California’s low-carbon standard, enacted in 2007, requires a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of fuels sold in the state by 2020. Corn-ethanol producers in the Midwest have opposed the low-carbon fuel standard, saying that it unfairly overestimated the environmental impact that occurs when land is used to grow corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. Farmers and ethanol producers in Iowa and nearby states have also argued they were placed at a disadvantage to the renewable fuel produced in and around California, largely shutting them out of the state’s market.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking on his own behalf, had talked with Clinton and her advisers about the importance of biofuels and maintaining the RFS, according the an Agriculture Department spokesman. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, had reached out to his contacts within her organization to express some concern, the source said.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has also backed maintaining the RFS. America’s Renewable Future, a bipartisan political group backed by elected officials and people in agriculture and the ethanol industry, has given both Clinton and Trump high marks for their positions on ethanol and the RFS.

“We feel very good about the support of both candidates for the RFS,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, a member of America’s Renewable Future. “I think that Iowa is going to be a swing state and so I think we’ll see Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton in Iowa often over the next couple of months, and hopefully this is another chance for this topic to come back up in Iowa in front of the voters.”

USA Today