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Feenstra: On the U.N. Climate Conference, Here’s Why Biden Must Embrace Biofuels

As farmers come closer to wrapping up harvest for the year, we are reminded of the powerful role Iowa plays in feeding the world. That’s why I continuously refer to Iowa as the breadbasket to the world; in the 4th District, we produce more crops than any other area of the country. But few people truly understand and appreciate the role our farmers play in not just feeding the world, but fueling it as well. In fact, most of the corn grown in Iowa is used to produce ethanol, providing consumers a cleaner and more affordable option at the pump. As gasoline prices skyrocket and President Biden and congressional Democrats are increasingly compelled to reduce carbon emissions, the facts paint a clear picture: Now is the time for Biden to embrace biofuels.
Iowa leads the nation in biofuels production, and it is a critical component to our thriving economy. According to a 2021 report from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa produced 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol and 351 million gallons of biodiesel in 2020 alone, and the industry supported nearly 40,000 jobs. The Iowa Corn Growers Association estimates 57% of corn grown in Iowa is used to produce ethanol — making over a fourth of all ethanol produced in the United States. Additionally, Casey’s and Kum & Go — two major gasoline retailers headquartered in Iowa — support over 45,000 jobs across the Midwest. Approximately 55% of Casey’s revenue came from fuel sales from April 2020 to April 2021.
Despite the massive impact Iowa crops, biofuels, and automotive fuel retailers have on our nation’s economy, Democrats are clinging to a far-fetched notion that electric vehicles are the future. This is evident in their multi-trillion dollar social spending proposal, which includes tax breaks for wealthy electric vehicle owners. For example, families earning up to $800,000 a year could still receive a $25,000 tax break for buying two Teslas. Keep in mind that these vehicles continue to require baseload power generation from nonrenewable resources. What’s more, these tax credits for the rich — which my colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim to despise — would divert approximately $16 billion in tax revenue according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Democrats’ initial proposal includes a whopping $42 billion in tax credits for electric vehicles, even though roughly 80% of these tax credits are claimed by coastal elites making over $100,000 a year. California is home to 42% of all electric vehicles.
Since Democrats seem to believe electric vehicles are the key to solving climate change, here are some additional facts published directly by the Biden administration: The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Agency recently released their 2021 Annual Energy Outlook, finding that four out of five new cars on the road will still run on liquid fuels by 2050. Furthermore, DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently acknowledged that liquid fuel vehicles will remain far more popular in the long-term. A separate study by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory entitled “Corn ethanol reduces carbon footprint, greenhouse gases” found that from 2005 to 2019, corn ethanol resulted in more than 500 million tons of greenhouse gas reductions and the carbon intensity of ethanol decreased by 23%.
Biden has seemingly turned a blind eye to these facts, even though they are coming directly from his administration. During a recent trip to the Midwest, Biden stated that “everyone knows that the future of the auto industry is electric.” Interestingly, Biden promised to “promote and advance” biofuels on the campaign trail, but the Biden administration has yet to release renewable volume obligations (RVOs) after initial reports indicated they would be making drastic cuts. This all comes as fuel costs continue to skyrocket, recently hitting a seven year high, while studies continue to show electric vehicles remain more expensive to fuel than gasoline-powered vehicles.
The facts speak for themselves: It is time for President Biden to listen to his own administration and uphold his promise to embrace biofuels. Doing so will spur economic growth in America’s heartland while simultaneously lowering carbon emissions — two important achievements that electric vehicles simply cannot match in the same manner.
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