(Cedar Rapids, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander on Tuesday accused G.O.P. front-runner George W. Bush of merely paying “lip service” to Iowa farmers when Bush expressed support for the federal tax break for ethanol fuel.
Earlier this year, Alexander called for a ban on M.T.B.E., an oil-based fuel additive which competes with corn-based ethanol. Earlier this month, Bush said he supports ethanol’s tax advantage at the pump because it’s “good for the environment and good for farmers.”
“Giving lip service to a law that’s already on the books is nice, but it doesn’t do anything for the farm crisis of the 1990s,” Alexander said in an interview with Radio Iowa. “A presidential candidate who wants to help the environment and help the agricultural economy immediately would favor banning M.T.B.E., the oil-based additive, and doubling the ethanol market.”
Alexander cited California’s decision to ban M.T.B.E. after studies found it contaminates the groundwater.
“If the federal government would ban M.T.B.E. as California has already done because of the damage to groundwater, that would double the market for ethanol and be an enormous help both to the environment and to corn growers in America,” Alexander said.
The former Tennessee Governor and former U.S. Secretary of Education spoke Tuesday afternoon at the International Ethanol Fuel Workshop and Trade Show in Cedar Rapids.
“One of the most important reasons for the Iowa Caucus is to push real issues to the front. I’m going to push the agriculture issues to the front of the Iowa Caucus and I’m going to start with ethanol. I
challenge the other candidates, both the republicans and the democrats, to stop giving lip service support to ethanol and go beyond that and do something that will make it a market-based product,” Alexander said.