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The former U.S. vice president has pledged support for advanced biofuels as part of his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
But Biden, who leads the crowded Democratic field in opinion polls in Iowa and nationally, faces lingering questions in the U.S. Farm Belt over his push in 2014 as President Barack Obama’s No. 2 to slash the amount of corn-based ethanol that refiners must blend into the country’s fuel supply.
Biden, a former U.S. senator from Delaware, was considered instrumental in orchestrating the blending cuts as a way to help struggling refineries on the East Coast deal with rising compliance costs under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a 2005 law requiring oil companies to blend increasing volumes of ethanol and other biofuels into fuel, Reuters previously reported.
A federal court struck down the cuts in 2016. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to make the biofuel industry whole for the lost gallons despite repeated promises to do so.
That could hurt Biden in Iowa, where he kicks off a campaign tour on Tuesday. The state is America’s top corn and ethanol producer, with 44 biofuel plants that help support more than 40,000 jobs. It holds the first presidential nominating contest in 2020, and any Democratic candidate who wants to win that vote and peel off some of Republican President Donald Trump’s Iowa support in the general election will likely have trouble if lukewarm on biofuels.
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