Scott Walker Backs Off Anti-Ethanol Stance At Iowa Summit

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may have wowed ’em in Iowa with a breakout speech just weeks ago. But the Hawkeye state giveth, and the Hawkeye state may well taketh away. The governor’s rethink on ethanol could be helpful in Iowa, but harmful almost everywhere else.

Walker’s previous speech, in January at Rep. Steve King’s Freedom Summit, went over well across the country because he seemed like something new and perhaps even bold.

Yet as his home state Journal Sentinel reports, Walker seems to be stepping back from his principled opposition to the federal ethanol mandate. Instead, he’s engaging in the time-honored art of pandering to Iowa’s corn farmers, promising to keep the mandate for now, and phase it out at an undetermined future date.

That stands in stark contrast to Ted Cruz’s crowd- and conservative-pleasing appearance in Iowa this weekend, during which the Texas Senator refused to cave on his longstanding opposition to ethanol subsidies.

Walker, a past critic of ethanol, acknowledged in January that he would have to spell out his position on the issue as part of his likely presidential bid. In other key issues for Iowa, Walker said that he favored drawing down federal tax credits for wind power over time and opposed mandatory labeling of foods made from genetically modified crops.

“It’s an access issue, and so it’s something I’m willing to go forward on continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure there’s certainty in terms of the blend levels set,” Walker said. “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.”

It’s a long way to the beginning, let alone the end, of the 2016 GOP primary season. But this latest performance in Iowa has at least as much potential to hurt Walker as his appearance there just weeks ago did to help him.

Contrast that with Cruz.

“Look, I recognize that this is a gathering of a lot of folks who the answer you’d like me to give is ‘I’m for the RFS, darnit,’ that’d be the easy thing to do,” Cruz said:

But I’ll tell you, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians that run around and tell one group one thing, tell another group another thing, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do anything that they said they would do.

And I think that’s a big part of the reason we have the problems we have in Washington, is there have been career politicians in both parties that aren’t listening to the American people and aren’t doing what they said they would do.


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