Iowa governor visits White House over renewable fuel rule

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) met with White House staffers last week to discuss an upcoming federal biofuel regulation.

Branstad and two aides met with officials from the White House and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Wednesday, according to a record of the meeting recently posted on the OMB’s website.

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The meeting was one of many the White House has hosted on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets annual requirements for refiners to mix biofuel like ethanol and biodiesel in with conventional gasoline. None of the other meetings have involved figures as high profile as the popular Iowa governor, now in his fifth term.

Since the 16-day government shutdown ended in mid-October, the White House has hosted a marathon 19 meetings on the upcoming Renewable Fuel Standard. Those sessions have featured a variety of officials involved in the energy, agriculture and retail industries.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release the draft mandate for 2014 in coming days.

Branstad has been a vocal proponent of the renewable fuel program, arguing that it is critical to support the budding biofuels industry. Supporting that industry is important, he has said, to diversifying the types of energy that the country relies on and reducing the pollution caused by transportation fuel.

Iowa is the country’s top producer of ethanol, which is made from corn. About a quarter of all ethanol in the U.S. comes from the state.

Ethanol and biofuel groups have worried about a leaked draft of the EPA’s 2014 standards, which would roll back the mandate for ethanol by about 3 billion gallons.

Critics of the Renewable Fuel Standard have said that it is out of date and could raise gas and food prices. They also say that increasing demands would require refiners to mix a blend of gasoline that consumers can't use in their cars.

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