Grassley Receives Holmberg Lifetime Achievement Award
Senator Grassley posted an Instagram of the event that can be found here.
Prepared Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference
Recipient of the Holmberg Lifetime Achievement Award
Thursday, April 4, 2019
It’s very good to be here with all of you this morning. I am in good company with like-minded leaders who appreciate the merits of renewable energy. As you all know, I have championed renewable energy and biofuels for a long time. While I very much appreciate and gratefully accept your Lifetime Achievement Award, I want to assure you that I’m not done yet.
My advocacy for Rural America has many more chapters to fill. That includes my work to grow homegrown renewable fuels. It’s good for consumers, the environment, economic growth, job creation and prosperity. And it’s very good for America’s national security and energy independence.
Throughout my leadership on the Senate Finance Committee, I have steered efforts to establish, enhance, and renew several tax incentives to promote homegrown, renewable energy. Thanks to innovation and investment from leaders like those of you here today, America has enjoyed a renaissance of clean energy technologies sprouting from America’s Heartland. Renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, as well as geothermal, biomass, wind, and solar energy are paving the way for prosperity for tens of thousands of Americans and providing clean energy to tens of millions of consumers.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the consumption of biofuels and other renewable energy in the United States has more than doubled from 2000 to 2017. Renewable energy is a smart investment and the fastest-growing source for electricity generation in the U.S. And my home state is leading the way. Iowa generates nearly 40 percent of its electricity from wind. We have more than 4,000 turbines on wind farms across Iowa. It’s a drought-resistant, flood-resistant cash crop for farmers. Wind energy is clean energy. And it’s producing prosperity for families in our rural communities. Its remarkable growth is something even I didn’t forecast when I wrote the wind energy tax incentive nearly three decades ago.
I’m also proud to say Iowa ranks first-in-the-nation for production of ethanol and biodiesel, accounting for over 26 percent and 17 percent of total U.S. production, respectively. The ethanol industry directly employs nearly 72,000 American workers and supports another 286,000 jobs indirectly. The biodiesel industry supports nearly 64,000 jobs across the United States. These renewable energy jobs provide an awful lot of paychecks that are supporting American families and boosting vitality in Rural America.
As I said earlier, I’m working on some unfinished business.
For several months now, we have been working to extend a set of tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018. These are commonly known as the tax extenders. I introduced bipartisan legislation to retroactively extend tax provisions through the balance of this year. Your industries made business decisions last year based on the reasonable expectation that these tax laws would be extended. That’s what Congress has consistently done in the past, a bad practice I’d like to end once and for all. The whole point of these federal tax incentives is to encourage certain behaviors, especially investments in alternative energies, energy efficiency and transportation. The best way to do that is ahead of time, not retroactively. I hope the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives acts soon. Uncertainty does not help foster growth, innovation or investment. In fact, it can wreak havoc for businesses, especially during tax filing season. I want you to know that I’m fighting to get the extenders enacted and I’m also working toward a longer-term resolution.
Fortunately for us Iowans, who endured a brutal winter, summer is just around the corner. Before Americans fill their fuel tanks during this summer driving season, I’m encouraged by the Trump administration’s action to approve E15 for year-round sales. However, I’m extremely frustrated by the so-called ‘hardship’ waivers handed out to multi-billion dollar oil companies. The handling of these waivers is ripe for review. There’s no good reason oil companies reporting billions in profits should be exempted from following the laws passed by Congress. In its annual RVO rule, the EPA must account for any small refiner economic hardship exemptions that it reasonably expects to grant during the compliance year. We need to continue to increase annual RVOs for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels and to ensure that, once set, the annual RVOs are fully met. The renewable fuels industry can do MORE. And the EPA should demonstrate more confidence in the RFS program’s ability to drive growth.
The RFS has made great strides to help diversify our nation’s fuel supply. On top of that, the RFS helps to create and sustain jobs, boost local economies, grow the tax base, and improve energy security. Diversifying America’s domestic energy portfolio is good for competition. Competition spurs innovation, improves consumer choice and ultimately delivers the best quality products to consumers. That's one of the many reasons I strongly support ethanol and biodiesel as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
The tone of our national energy policy discussions shouldn't be "us versus them." It must focus on how traditional and renewable fuels can both work to provide efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly products to the American people and the world. U.S. energy policy shouldn't be manipulated by industry interests seeking to undermine competition.
Thank you again for the invitation to join you this morning. Once again, I’m honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. And I’m happy to take a few questions.