Cruz doubles down on phasing out ethanol mandate

Greg Nash

Republican presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzMcConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Cruz holds back support for Trump with eye on abortion Trump takes victory lap over rivals' remarks MORE  is doubling down on his call to phase out the federal mandate setting ethanol levels in gasoline. 

In a Des Moines Register op-ed Wednesday, Cruz said he would look to “phase out the Renewable Fuel Standard, end all energy subsidies, and ensure a level playing field for everyone,” a move that would eventually end the mandate that requires oil refiners to mix biofuel into their gasoline supplies. 

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“My view on energy is simple: We should pursue an 'all of the above' policy,” he wrote. “We should embrace all of the energy resources with which God has blessed America: oil and gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and biofuels and ethanol. But Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.”

Cruz has previously said he would look to end the mandate by 2022, phasing it out over five years, if elected to the Oval Office.

Cruz leads Republicans in Iowa polls ahead the caucuses there next month, but his ethanol policies could hurt him in the state, which leads in the fuel’s production.

The senator from Texas has previously co-sponsored a bill to end the ethanol mandate immediately. Last spring, he sponsored a phase-out bill, and he says that plan is the best way to support fuel producers.

“I do believe there should be a gradual phase-out because there has been investment-based expectations,” Cruz told an audience in Cherokee, Iowa, on Tuesday night. 

“The lobbyists are trying the best they can to snooker the people of Iowa and convince the people of Iowa that a government mandate is the only way for ethanol to survive. The problem is, the government is blocking ethanol. They are trying to convince you the mandate is the best way to go.”

Ethanol groups have looked to pressure Cruz on the issue. They welcomed his comments Wednesday. 

“Farmers and rural communities across Iowa are going to be encouraged by Sen. Cruz’s remarks,” America’s Renewable Future state director Eric Branstad said in a statement. 

“He is clearly listening to the people of Iowa and understands the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to America’s economy and energy independence, as he started the caucus process calling for immediate repeal. While not perfect, this is a big step forward by Sen. Cruz.”