Will RFS play big role in 2016 presidential elections?

Like it or not, there's another US presidential election coming in 2016. Politicians are already out campaigning for a possible run in the primaries, and the Iowa caucuses offer an early chance to gain an advantage. To kick the politicking off even earlier, a cadre of potential Republican hopefuls recently met in Des Moines, IA, for the Iowa Freedom Summit. One of the big topics there was the role the Renewable Fuel Standard could play in the upcoming ballot.

The RFS requires a certain amount of renewable fuel, often corn-based ethanol, be mixed into gasoline, and the mandate is a big concern in farm-rich places like Iowa. The Des Moines Register asked the state's governor Terry Branstad, a vocal proponent of the RFS, about the chances for candidates who might not support the rule. "I think it is a disadvantage," he said.

The mandate has been under scrutiny lately for allegedly inflating US gas prices because ethanol is now more expensive than gas, while historically being cheaper. The Environmental Protection Agency was also at least considering lowering the amount of renewables in the nation's fuel last year. Iowa farmers see the situation differently, though. According to The Des Moines Register, the price of corn to make ethanol is now below the cost of actually growing the crop. "[The rule] is important to Iowa's economy," Governor Branstad told the newspaper.

This friction over the RFS could turn into a talking point in farming-intense states during the presidential primaries and election. Lobbyists tried to make it into an issue during the 2014 election.

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