Iowa is the nation’s leading ethanol producer, but on President Obama’s Earth Day visit to the state on Wednesday, he never once uttered the word "ethanol," at least while in front of a microphone. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he does not view the president’s omission of ethanol from his address as a snub or a disappointment.
"I can tell you unequivocally, Obama supports ethanol, he has a long history of support for this," Harkin says. "I believe he was touting the wind energy thing yesterday simply as a manufacturing type of a process, getting manufacturing jobs shifted from one type of manufacturing into another to provide more energy for this country."
Harkin, a Democrat, says ethanol supporters are working with the federal E-P-A on raising the blend level of the current 10% ethanol to 90% gasoline mixture to being a 15% ethanol blend. He says that would be a plus for all Iowans involved in the industry — from the farmers to the producers and the consumers.
"We want this based on science," Harkin says. "We know. We’ve had the data. We’ve had good research into this that 15% has no affect whatsoever on internal combustion gasoline engines. Probably the best thing is to let the science rule and not have opponents, oil companies and others, coming up and say they made that decision because of political pressure and stuff from Obama."
There are 41 ethanol plants either running or under construction in Iowa. Obama’s speech focused on wind energy and was delivered from a factory in Newton that builds towers for wind turbines.