Texas Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] won the Iowa caucus Monday night despite attacks by business mogul Donald Trump on the senator’s long-standing opposition to federal ethanol mandates and subsidies.
Cruz bested Trump by more than 6,000 votes, with Florida Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] roughly 2,000 votes behind Trump.
“I don’t want to use names, but I will, okay? I’m looking at the money put up by Ted Cruz, for Ted Cruz. It’s incredible, the people there. It’s controlled. And he will destroy your ethanol business 100 percent. 100 percent,” Trump said Monday in Iowa. “The oil people don’t want ethanol, it’s very simple. Especially now with the prices going down….your ethanol business, if Ted Cruz gets in, will be wiped out within six months to a year. It’s going to be gone. It’s going to be gone. And as you know, the ethanol folks like Trump, I’ve been consistent, I’ve been solid. I’m a supporter and will always be a supporter.”
Oil companies largely oppose the structure of existing ethanol subsidies; some of them are huge ethanol producers of advanced bio-fuels and want more flexible mandates and subsidies.
Trump fully embraced ethanol mandates and subsidies, even saying they don’t go far enough. Yet, support for ethanol doesn’t appear to be as politically advantageous as it once was, as shown by Cruz’s success.
Cruz’s victory is “absolutely” a threat to federal support for ethanol, Derek Eadon, a Des Moines political consultant and senior adviser to the pro-ethanol group America’s Renewable Future, told Politico last week.
America’s Renewable Future launched aggressive attacks on both of the candidates who oppose ethanol subsidies — Cruz and Kentucky Sen. [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore]. The group has followed Cruz around Iowa from campaign stop to campaign stop since Jan. 4.
The ethanol industry is heavily dependent on a federal mandate requiring gasoline sold in the U.S. contain a certain amount of ethanol. Ethanol tax credits are estimated to have cost the federal government up to $40 billion between 1978 and 2012, National Review reported. About 47 percent of Iowa’s corn crop went towards ethanol production in 2014, and almost all ethanol sold in the U.S. is made from corn.
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