At a political event in central Iowa last night, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer  promised to end ethanol subsidies if he’s elected president. Roemer’s comment didn’t wow the crowd in the heart of the nation’s number-one ethanol producing state. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the corn-based fuel is one vital element that’s helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

“This country is committed to more than one source of energy,” Grassley says. “I can understand why Mr. Roemer would say the things he’s saying. He’s from one of the biggest oil and gas-producing states in the nation. You know how we’ve been fighting big oil for 30 years on ethanol.”

In his speech in Waukee, Roemer said: “Ethanol takes four rows out of ten of every corn field, four rows out of ten that doesn’t go to hungry people or necessary people. This is not right,” Roemer said, getting scattered applause from the crowd. None of the other four possible GOP presidential candidates at the Faith and Freedom Coalition event spoke of ethanol.

Grassley, a fellow Republican, says the average cost to fill up a gas tank is now around $50, making it tougher for families struggling to make ends meet. “I think our country is committed to a broad-based energy policy for national security and economic security and energy independence,” Grassley says.

“That’s obviously petroleum and coal. We ought to be drilling here and drilling now. I wish that’s what Roemer would’ve been talking about last night.” With gasoline prices steadily rising the past several weeks, some are suggesting the U.S. tap into its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Grassley says he’s not a fan of the idea, although the move would temporarily increase the supply of fuel and bring down pump prices.

“Yeah, but that’s like eating your seed corn,” Grassley says. “It doesn’t accomplish anything. I mean, it’s going to accomplish something short-term and it’s something we’ve done in the past under both Republicans and Democrats, so I’m not going to badmouth it.”

Grassley says drilling for oil in Alaska is off the table now, and so is drilling that was proposed a year ago by the Obama administration off the nation’s East Coast. Plus, he says permitting is just starting for renewed oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. For all those reasons, Grassley says the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should stay where it is — in reserve, along with subsidies on ethanol.