In what’s being deemed a shift in his position on the issue, Governor Scott Walker voiced support for ethanol mandates at an Iowa agricultural summit over the weekend. The first-ever Iowa Ag Summit convened early Saturday morning, with Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad warning participants not to “mess” with the Renewable Fuels Standard. The RFS is the federal mandate that requires a set amount of ethanol to be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel each year.
Monte Shaw is the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and he told Radio Iowa a candidate’s stand on the mandate will be a deciding factor for some Iowa voters. “There is, what, 14 candidates talking about running now on the Republican side and the RFS is absolutely part of the winnowing down process,” Shaw said. “In fact, part of our whole effort is to say: ‘Pick from among the guys and gals on the nice list, not the guys and gals on the naughty list.'”
By Shaw’s count, six of the nine prospective candidates who showed up Saturday – including Walker – support the ethanol mandate. “In general, on any issue, I’m somebody that believes in a free and open market,” Walker said. “I don’t like a whole lot of government interference…but I do believe it’s an access issue.”
“Now, long-term – we’ve talked about this before as well – my goal would be to get to a point where we directly address those market access issues and I think that’s a part of the challenge. So that eventually you didn’t need to have a standard.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker had previously indicated that he flatly opposed the mandate.