White House Nominee's Take on Renewables Could Impact Iowa Growers
DES MOINES, Iowa – Some Iowa farmers are voicing concerns about a White House nominee's position on renewable energy. A vote is expected Wednesday on President Donald Trump's pick to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Kathleen Hartnett White is a former conservative think-tank director and Texas environmental regulator.
As a farmer and renewable-energy advocate, Ray Gaesser of Corning says he's very concerned about White's criticism of climate and environmental science, and her commitment to fossil fuels.
"Her record on renewable fuels has not been positive," he notes. "Her past words don't exactly jibe, I would say, with someone who is going to lead the Council on Environmental Quality and make recommendations to our Trump administration."
White has waffled on her position regarding the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets biofuel blending targets for the nation's fuel supply. Gaesser says the measure has helped corn growers like him maintain a viable agricultural industry.
Iowa leads the nation in ethanol and biodiesel production, which Gaesser says has provided stable demand for the corn and soybean feedstocks grown by area farmers. He adds that the wind sector is paying up to $10 million annually to lease land from rural landowners, without displacing cash crops.
"The renewable-fuels industry has become such a big part of us," he adds. "And we believe as farmers, as rural citizens that we are really helping not only the local economy, the U.S. economy; and at the same time providing lots of environmental benefits."
Gaesser contends top policy advisers should understand the economic and environmental realities of farming and ranching and the role of renewables.
"The person that needs to be in this role is someone that for sure is open-minded, that will look at the pros and cons realistically and realize all of the benefits that the renewable-fuels industry has provided for America and the world," explains Gaesser.
By the end of 2018, Iowa's renewable-fuels industry is expected to account for more than $5.5 billion of the state's Gross Domestic Product, generate more than $2.8 billion in income for households and support more than 53,000 jobs.