- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that a federal program promoting wind energy production, which recently expired, has worked and should be renewed for at least a few more years before being phased out altogether.

Mr. Bush has returned to Iowa for the first time since announcing in December that he was interested in running for president.

Last week, he appeared at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, and on Saturday he was among a number of likely GOP presidential candidates that flocked to the Iowa Agricultural Summit, hosted by Bruce L. Rastetter, a major GOP donor.

In 20-minute question and answer sessions, Mr. Rastetter pressed the Republicans eying White House bids to take a stand on the federal wind production tax credit, which Congress allowed to expire last year, as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, that requires a certain amount of green sources to be included in the nation’s fuel supply.

The law has provided a major market for Midwest farmers that produce corn, which is used to make ethanol, but also has come under fire from conservatives who think the industry should be able to compete on its own.

Mr. Bush said the wind industry is “now competitive” and said that the tax credit “ought to be phased out over a period of time.”

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“Do it over a three-to five-year period,” Mr. Bush said. “Be certain about it: say this is as long as we need to be competitive to create a diverse feedstock for power generation.”

Mr. Bush said the RFS has increased renewable fuel production and reduced the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. He said it also should rolled back over time.

“I would suggest to you ultimately, whether it is ethanol or any other alternative fuel, renewable or otherwise, the markets ultimately are going to have to decide,” Mr. Bush told Mr Rastetter, who supports the RFS. “So at some point we will see a reduction of the RFS need because ethanol will be such a valuable part of the energy feedstock for our country. Whether that is in 2022 or sometime in the future, I don’t know.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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