Republican Governor Terry Branstad is predicting both he and his son could have “some real influence” on Donald Trump’s attitudes toward ethanol.
Trump has hired the governor’s son, Eric, to run his presidential campaign effort in Iowa. The governor says Trump and Eric Branstad first connected last November when the younger Branstad was leading a pro-ethanol political action committee called “America’s Renewable Future.”
“He got him to visit an ethanol plant in Gowrie, Iowa,” Governor Branstad says. “And my son, Eric, said that he was impressed with Trump’s interest and support of renewables and he asked good questions and then (Trump) spoke in Fort Dodge said good things about it.”
Trump visited the POET Biorefining plant near Gowrie, then spoke at a rally in Fort Dodge on November 12. In January, at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Trump called for extending the federal ethanol production mandate. That “Renewable Fuels Standard” is set to expire in 2022.
“Recently he was asked up in North Dakota about extending the RFS, the Renewable Fuels Standard, and he said: ‘I want to talk to Governor Branstad about that,'” the governor says. “So I think between my son and I, hopefully we can have some real influence on shaping his plans for the future and his plans for renewable energy.”
Trump delivered a speech on energy policy in North Dakota in late May. Trump told reporters there he’d seek Governor Branstad’s counsel on the RFS and would be making a decision “soon” on whether he’ll support or oppose continuing the mandate.
Trump considers solar and wind power “very expensive” energy sources. Without the wind production tax credit, wind power “doesn’t work” according to Trump.
The federal tax credit for wind generators expires at the end of 2019. Governor Branstad says America needs an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes not only petroleum and coal, but “renewable” sources like the wind, corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)