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Another crack in the RFS armor

By Jonathan Sweet

I'll admit it. I'm a political junkie.

I was tracking the results of the Iowa caucuses all night Monday. I'm sure I'll be checking my phone constantly Tuesday night while I'm down at the Miami show to see the New Hampshire results.

But even if you're not that interested in the race, one of the results out of Iowa should matter to you. And that's Ted Cruz's win on the Republican side. He fits the profile of a lot of past winners on the Republican side in Iowa -- conservative, appeals to evangelicals, etc. But there is one big difference: Cruz came out against ethanol subsidies.

That's something that once spelled certain electoral doom in the nation's first caucuses. Ethanol has often been called the "third rail" of Iowa politics -- touch it and you die. The so-called "ethanol pledge" was something every candidate who hoped to win in Iowa would make, promising to continue supporting those subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard.

His opposition to ethanol subsidies even had Iowa's Republican governor, Terry Branstad, calling for Cruz's defeat in the state.

Despite all that, he won, indicating that perhaps ethanol will not be the dominant factor it has been for years in Iowa politics.

The boating industry has a long history of opposing the RFS and the increased use of E15 due to the damage that ethanol can do to marine engines.

Cruz's victory may very well end up helping efforts to repeal or revamp the RFS. After all, the Senate has often been described as 100 people who believe they're going to be president some day -- and for years the message was if you want to be president, don't piss off Iowa.

Congress will once again be considering bills aimed at revamping or repealing the RFS this year. Support seems to be gaining for those efforts -- perhaps even in the home of King Corn.

 

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