- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for a gradual phase-out of a federal mandate that has boosted Iowa’s corn market, saying market access should eventually make such a standard unnecessary.

“In my state, for example, when I ran — we don’t have an ethanol mandate. I was asked about an ethanol mandate; I didn’t support it,” Mr. Walker said during a question-and-answer session at the Iowa State Fair. “When I came here for an Ag summit earlier this year, I pointed out that it’s already in place, as you know. The tax subsidy’s gone, but the renewable fuel standard’s still in place.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, has required corn-based ethanol to be blended into almost every gallon of gas in the U.S. The issue has divided the 2016 GOP field, with candidates having to balance any advocacy for the unwinding of a federal mandate with the risk of potentially turning off influential voters in Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

“My argument is it’s here right now, you’ve got a whole industry based on that — you [need to] support that,” Mr. Walker said, speaking at the Des Moines Register’s political soapbox. “I would like to see all the different standards and mandates bunched together and phased out over time, which is why I said over the next couple of years.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said last week at the event he supports the mandate.

“Because I believe if you get market access, which would be the goal over that time, you don’t need the standard,” Mr. Walker said. “Market access is really the issue. I’ve talked to farmers in this state [and] across the country. It’s getting that choice at the pump.”

“In my state, we’ve actually already put it in … [we’re] trying to do the grants for making sure that ma and pa gas stations can actually switch that so you can have a blender there,” Mr. Walker said. “You get market access. You don’t need the standard. It’s all about getting access to the marketplace and then let consumers make [a] choice.”

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