INDIANAPOLIS – The Democrat and Republican running to replace Gov. Mitch Daniels spent most of their Tuesday morning talk with Indiana corn growers and ethanol producers outlining their similarities, starting with the fact that their campaign vehicles run on E85 ethanol blends.
Former Democratic Indiana House Speaker John Gregg and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence disagreed about little Tuesday at the Indiana Ethanol Forum.
Both touted their support for more fuel choices – read that as higher blends of ethanol in gasoline and more gas pumps throughout the state that dispense E85 blends – and blasted the Obama administration for new regulations on coal plants that could hit the states coal industry.
Gregg said he would consider a state-level ethanol consumption mandate and look at building more E85 fuel pumps around the state. Pence, meanwhile, argued that building out the states roads would help maximize development of the states existing ethanol plants.
Roz Leeck, biofuels director for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, said 30 percent of the states corn was converted to ethanol last year.
He noted that Indiana provides roughly 7 percent of the nations ethanol.
While state-level decisions have helped shape the industry that boomed in the Midwest through the last decade, much of the battle is still being fought in Washington.
Daniels, who also spoke at the forum, criticized hostility against corn ethanol in Washington. Lawmakers recently allowed to expire a $5.4 billion-a-year tax credit that paid oil refiners 45 cents per gallon to add ethanol to their mixes.
And yet, the Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a higher blend of ethanol in gasoline, and a 2007 federal law requires that the United States consume 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022.