If you read the 2008 Republican platform you will notice two important things regarding biofuel. First, the plan for energy independence gives ethanol a small role. Second, the platform specifically says "[t]he U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work."
The platform's discussion about transportation fuels includes biofuels but insists that the country move quickly away from corn ethanol to cellulosic ethanol. The platform puts as much emphasis on electric and natural gas powered vehicles and improving the efficiency of gasoline powered vehicles as it does ethanol. The Republican Party clearly does not believe that ethanol will save us from our need of foreign oil.
The call to end ethanol mandates is a pleasant surprise. While the party has been unable to agree on the usefulness of ethanol in reducing foreign oil dependency and the impact ethanol has on food supplies and food prices, it was members of this party, from representatives to the president, that helped to pass the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 creating the current mandates. This shift is certainly a slap in the face of Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, ethanol's largest supporter. Grassley responded to the platform by saying "I disagree with that part of our platform. If we were going to have $140- a-barrel oil the rest of our life, we may not need mandates. But if we didn't have mandates, we wouldn't have the vibrant energy business we have right now.''
First Grassley was not elected by his fellow Iowans to represent them as a delegate to the national convention and now the party explicitly states that it will work towards eliminating ethanol mandates. This may be another sign that Grassley has become out of touch with the conservative base of the Republican Party. It is nice to see the party move away from federal meddling and embrace free markets.
Originally posted 09/04/2008 on Grassley Watch