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RFS Supporters Ramp Up Cruz Criticism

Des Moines Register

December 8, 2015

By William Petroski

Supporters of the Renewable Fuels Standard, seen as key to the future of Iowa’s corn-based ethanol production, are ramping up criticism of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, saying he’s the only presidential candidate from both parties who has refused to either tour a biofuels plant or meet with industry lobbyists.

Critics of Cruz, whose has been rising in polls in a crowded field of Republican candidates, held a news conference Tuesday at Lincolnway Energy in Nevada. They accused him of abandoning 75,000 Iowans employed in the renewable fuels industry while supporting subsidies for the oil industry.

“Every candidate, good or bad, has respected Iowans and the caucus process by sitting down with us and learning about the RFS, except for Ted Cruz,” said Eric Branstad, executive director of America’s Renewable Future, a pro-biofuels lobby group. The federal government's Renewable Fuels Standard requires renewable fuels like ethanol to be blended into transportation fuels like gasoline.

Branstad was joined by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a longtime supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Santorum claimed that Cruz is supporting the oil industry over Iowa’s biofuels industry.

“They don’t want a competing product coming in and getting market share. That is the bottom line,” Santorum told reporters after touring the Lincolnway Energy plant here. The plant produces 60 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Last week, Cruz asked Iowa radio stations to stop running an advertisement sponsored by America's Renewable Future. The 60-second ad, entitled “Hypocrite,” claims Cruz has $700,000 in personal oil investments and that pro-Cruz super PACs received $25 million in donations from oil companies.

Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the Texas U.S. senator, said in a statement to The Des Moines Register last week, "It is blatantly false to suggest that Sen. Cruz wants to end the Renewable Fuel Standard while maintaining subsidies for oil. Cruz has repeatedly stated that he would end all energy specific subsidies, both ethanol and oil among others."

Cruz’s campaign issued a statement Tuesday that the Texas senator looks forward to America’s Renewable Future endorsing Cruz’s flat tax plan that eliminates all loopholes, stops corporate welfare, and specifically allows every company, including ethanol producers, to immediately expense all of their capital costs, treating everyone fairly, without subsidy.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Cruz has at least $365,000 in oil and gas investments, according to a July personal finance disclosure. Three Texas energy billionaires donated $25 million in total to super PACs backing Cruz’s presidential bid, the newspaper reported.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard, endorsed Cruz’s presidential candidacy last month, calling him “the Constitutional conservative who can restore the soul of America.” King said he wanted to do everything he could to support Cruz’ campaign for the White House.

Branstad said Tuesday that King has been a powerful ally for the renewable fuels industry and he hopes the Iowa congressman is sharing information with Cruz. But he expressed disappointment that Cruz has ignored “invitation after invitation” to discuss renewable fuels issues.

“He came to Iowa with his allegiance already established the oil industry, not Iowans and not our caucus process,” Branstad said.

This list of presidential hopefuls who have met with biofuels industry supporters includes 12 Republican candidates, plus Democratic White House hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders.

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