The Iowa Farm Bureau’s president says it’s likely delegates to the organization’s convention will reconsider backing a bid to require that all gas pumps in Iowa dispense fuels that are blended with corn-based ethanol. Craig Lang says delegates debated the issue yesterday (Tuesday).
“Our membership said choice is best,” Lang says. “We believe that we can grow the ethanol industry in such a way that…we can do that with incentives and a carrot instead of a stick, forcing people to go to the pump and not having a choice of something without ethanol is really not our philosophy.”

Lang, who raises corn on his farm near Brooklyn, was surprised delegates rejected the ethanol-only mandate. “But it’s not final until Thursday. Some delegates may get together and come back and say ‘Hey, we maybe we need a mandate,'” Lang says. “But until mandate is in our policy book, as leaders we can’t go to the legislature and say ‘You’ve got to force all Iowans to…have ethanol in their gas tank.'” Yesterday, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley chided Republicans in the state Senate for failing to back a state law that would require all retailers to ensure their gas pumps dispense an ethanol-blended fuel. He’s mystified that Farm Bureau delegates voted not to back the idea.

Grassley says he attended two Farm Bureau county conventions and there was “overwhelming” support for the concept, and Grassley believed it would be easily adopted at the state convention. With the recent onset of three-dollar gasoline, Grassley predicts the ethanol issue will be debated in the 2006 Legislative session. Grassley says when Hurricane Katrina hit and disrupted the supply of gasoline in America, it brings the problem into focus.

Republican Congressman Jim Nussle has pledged to back an ethanol-only rule for Iowa gas pumps if he’s elected governor. Nussle says no one likes mandates, but there’s already a foreign oil mandate in America. “To be a little parochial about this, and maybe people think it’s selfish or it’s too much government intrusion, I think it’s promoting Iowa, promoting American energy as opposed to going over and having to defend our oil supplies around the world,” Nussle says.

Nussle says it’s making a choice between foreign sources of oil and American-grown energy like ethanol. Nussle is also calling for a national energy summit in Iowa. “Anytime you can promote Iowa energy and promote Iowa as being the renewable (energy) capital of the world I think it’s worth doing it,” Nussle says. Nussle hopes the summit would set out goals for the nation to achieve.