Where The Candidates Stand On Ethanol (GOP)

  • Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

In the last 10 days, we've carried three stories on how important a role the RFS will play in Iowa, which will host the nation's first caucus in February 2016.

The first story highlighted how the RFS enjoys strong bipartisan support in Iowa, making it almost unthinkable for any candidate to oppose the country's best energy policy there (unless you come from an oil rich state but more on that later).

The second story goes one step further in explaining why support for the RFS is critical to winning in Iowa (and why that's a good thing). 

The third story gives some hints on how to cut through all the political chatter to see which candidates really support the RFS and those that are just trying to score political points in Iowa.

After much research, we've found what all the candidates have so far said about ethanol. In the first segment of a two-part series, we will first highlight where ethanol stands within the crowded GOP field. It's important to note that these positions could change down the road. After all, Big Oil's attacks are expected to intensify in the days leading to the EPA's announcement of its final rule for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 RFS (which has to be released by Nov 30) and as a result, some of the candidates may change their position.

On the flip side, if the EPA sticks to its targets, we could see some candidates take up the mantle in promising a return to the original targets in the RFS should he or she become president. 

But, without further ado, here are their positions.


Donald Trump

"I am totally in favor of ethanol, 100 percent."

Sen. Rick Santorum

"(It's) one of the things to show efficient ethanol has become, how important it is from the stand point to improve octane ratings. It creates jobs in small-town rural America, which is where people are hurting."

Gov. Mike Huckabee

"Some people will say, 'Well that is not a very conservative position.' Folks, let me tell you what's not a conservative position. A conservative position says that if the government tells people to do something and spend millions and millions of dollars and infrastructure to follow a new government mandate, and they do it, and then the same government comes back and pulls the rug out from under them and says, 'Well, we are not going to do that anymore.' You've just messed up a whole lot of people who made the investment because they trusted the government."

Sen. Lindsey Graham

"Well, every gallon of ethanol you can produce here in Iowa is one less gallon you have to buy from people who hater your guts, so keep it up."

Gov. George Pataki

"Washington made a commitment to those farmers and those investors, we have to keep our word."


Gov. Jeb Bush

"I would suggest to you that ultimately, whether it's ethanol or any other alternative fuel, renewable or otherwise, the market is going to ultimately decide this. This law was passed in 2007 has worked, for sure. Look at the increase in production. It has been a benefit to us as we've reduced our dependency on foreign sources of oil." (March 2015

"I think, ultimately, we need to get to a point where there aren't winners or losers based on subsidies or mandates or anything else." (October 2015)

Gov. Chris Christie 

"The law requires the president to establish RFS, and he should. Certainly anybody who is a competent president would get that done and their administration should get done." (March 2015)

"I think that this type - whether it's ethanol or any of the other alternatives - need to be evaluated in the price of overall energy approach in our country, which we don't have now. (June 2015)

Sen. Ted Cruz

"I support biofuels. I think they have a major role in the energy market. But I don't think Washington should be picking winners and losers."


Sen. Marco Rubio

He has voted against ethanol but claims he supports the RFS and that it should eventually phased out. At the same time, he said also said the following:

"If there's ever an area where I've been willing to use government to assist an industry, it's been agriculture because it's an industry that faces unfair global competition and if we lose the industry you can't get it back."


Ben Carson

"I don't particularly like the idea of government subsidies for anything as it interferes with the natural free market. Therefore, I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations (for 30 percent ethanol blends)." (May 2015)

"First of all, I was wrong about taking the oil subsidy. I have studied that issue in great detail and what I've concluded, the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are. And you know all this 'too big to fail' stuff and picking and choosing winners and losers, this is a bunch of crap. And it is really causing a great deal of problems for our society right now." (Oct 2015)


Carly Fiorina

"Government shouldn't be setting prices. Government shouldn't be picking winners and losers."

Come back later this week to find out what the Democratic candidates say about the RFS.