Hillary Clinton Wades Into Corn Ethanol Debate

An op-ed in an Iowa newspaper from Democratic White House front-runner Hillary Clinton has laid bare the new politics of a biofuel blending mandate that has corn growers on edge.

While the ex-secretary of state and senator offered a full-throated endorsement of the Renewable Fuel Standard, never once did she write the words “corn” or “ethanol” in the piece that ran Thursday.

Iowa produces more corn ethanol than any other state, accounting for 25 percent of the United States total. Even Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is behind a multimillion-dollar effort to get White House hopefuls to endorse the fuel standard at the Iowa caucuses, underscoring the industry’s importance to the state.

But corn ethanol has come under increasing pressure from a key part of the liberal base — environmental groups.

“I think the bloom is off the rose of corn ethanol,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources with the Environmental Working Group. “There’s growing awareness of really the failure of corn ethanol to live up to the promises that were made about the fuel — that it’s better for air quality, that it’s creating energy independence, improving greenhouse gas emissions. All of those have been proven to be false.”