By Timothy Cama - 01/19/16 03:11 PM EST
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFighting for affordable energy could remake presidential race Trump claims Democrats are making up polls Hanks: Trump's 'suspense' comment a 'gift' for 'SNL' MORE said Tuesday that federal regulators should increase the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline supply.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump, a real estate mogul and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ought to follow the ethanol volumes Congress set in 2007.
The mandate is popular in Iowa, which hosts the nation's first caucuses.
In setting the ethanol blending mandate for 2016 last year, the EPA used a provision in the law that allows it to waive the specific volumes Congress set out, citing lower than expected gasoline demand, among other factors.
Trump spoke very briefly about the ethanol mandate at the beginning of his speech, reading from notes in a straightforward fashion, before continuing onto other subjects in the more lively manner he usually shows in stump speeches.
The event came hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told voters in the first state to choose presidential candidates that they shouldn’t vote for Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzJuan Williams: When WikiLeaks leaked my cell number 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Is Georgia turning blue? MORE (Texas), one of Trump’s most potent challengers.
Branstad cited Cruz’s opposition to continuing the ethanol mandate after 2022, saying Cruz is “heavily financed by Big Oil.”
Trump welcomed Branstad’s comment.
Cruz has “been mixed in the subject, he goes wherever the votes are, so he all of the sudden went over here, and then all of the sudden, he got slapped,” Trump said. “So it’s very interesting to see.”
Trump was generally very supportive of the ethanol law, saying he is “100 percent” behind the ethanol industry, a powerful force in Iowa.
“As president, I will encourage Congress to be cautious in attempting to charge and change any part of the RFS,” he said.
Trump tied ethanol to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” saying ethanol reduces dependence on imported oil, which helps energy independence.
“Energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again. My theme is ‘Make America Great Again.’ It’s an important part of it,” he said.