Democratic Candidates’ Electric Car Mandates Will Kill Jobs in Iowa and Beyond

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It must be an election year. Like clockwork, candidates on the stump in Iowa — and even at the recent democratic debate at Drake University — are making a point to show their support for our ethanol industry. But for voters who care about the renewable fuels industry and the 50,000 jobs it supports in Iowa alone, saying what we want to hear about the Renewable Fuel Standard, trade, and waivers aren't enough, especially when these same candidates back energy and transportation policies that would decimate the domestic biofuel industry.  

Each of the top candidates in the Democratic Caucus wants to ban cars that run on gasoline. If they think the trade war and refinery exemptions are hurting biofuel producers and farmers, what do they think their vehicle mandates are going to do?

Vice President Biden wants fuel economy standards to require 100% of passenger cars to be zero-emission (mostly electric vehicles) and would resurrect EV tax credits that unfairly benefit wealthy Californians at the expense of all other taxpayers. There is no room for ethanol or advanced biofuels within this plan. EVs do not run on ethanol.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are even more aggressive. In just 10 years, they want all transportation to be electric and would spend trillions providing grants and trade-in incentives for families to switch to EVs. Under either plan, there would be no new gas- or diesel-powered cars for sale in America after 2030. That means no new cars would use biofuels like ethanol or biodiesel, and it means less demand for corn and soybeans.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg — one of just three candidates from the Midwest — brought national attention to the struggles our ethanol industry is facing during November’s televised debate. But even he plans to phase us out with a 2035 electric car mandate and expand the multi-billion EV subsidy program that has done little to benefit Iowans.

Unsurprisingly, each of the candidates — relying on that special math known only to politicians — promises their plan will create millions of jobs in the wake of plant closures and workforce upheaval. But how many jobs will they kill in America’s heartland by making fuel-powered cars and trucks illegal? And will any of these replacement jobs they want to “enlist” us for be in rural communities or in the shadow of shuttered ethanol facilities?

As we prepare to caucus on February 3, Iowa voters can’t lose sight of the big picture. EV mandates are unfair and will hurt Iowa’s economy and jobs in our state.

We also lack the technology and charging infrastructure — especially in rural areas — to overhaul the way we drive. Cars that lose 40% of their range in cold temperatures when they’re driven with the heater on simply won’t work in Iowa winters. And EVs charged on a coal-powered grid are hardly a solve for the environment.  

Farmers are the original conservationists. We are champions for the environment and a healthy climate, and ethanol plays a key role in supplying clean fuels that power more efficient engines. We are part of the solution to make transportation even cleaner. We’re not a barricade to be removed.

A strong American liquid fuels sector is in the best interest of every Iowan and every U.S. consumer who wants to continue choosing for themselves the kinds of cars they want to drive. We need to hear our Caucus candidates recognize that a cleaner, more sustainable future for energy and transportation isn’t a zero-fuel, zero-sum game.

Ed Wiederstein is a livestock and grain farmer from Audubon, and the former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau.


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