White paper outlines Romney agriculture policy, addresses RFS

By Erin Voegele | October 10, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a white paper on his agriculture policy this week. Within the document, Romney announced his support for the renewable fuel standard (RFS). Under a section of the white paper, titled “The Romney Agenda: Energy Independence,” Romney said that “fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to biofuels growers and refiners and providing them with certainty they need to follow through on their investments in  promising technologies,” is one of the ways to achieve energy independence by 2020.

“Romney recognizes that biofuels are crucial to America’s energy future and to achieving his goal of energy independence, and he supports maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard to guarantee producers the market access they have been promised as they continue to move forward,” stated the white paper.

The document also lists three other ways in which Romney intends to achieve North American energy independence by 2020. The policy paper said he will accelerate the development of America’s abundant energy resources, while pursuing a North American Energy Partnership that assures America can share in the substantial energy resources of Canada and Mexico. The white paper also noted that he will restore transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation so that government plays a supporting role in energy production, rather than become its chief impediment. Finally, Romney intends to facilitate private-sector-led development of new technologies by focusing government investment on research across the full spectrum of energy-related technologies, and not on picking winners and losers.

Both the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy have spoken out to commend Romney’s support of the RFS. "We applaud Gov. Romney's continuing support of domestic renewable fuels and his recognition of the importance of the RFS,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.  “Right here, right now the ethanol industry is working hard and to great effect to reduce America's reliance on imported oil, create hundreds of thousands of jobs all across rural America, and lower gas prices at the pump.  We also appreciate Governor Romney’s business acumen when it comes to the importance of certainty to investors in the next generation of biofuels."

“I was very pleased to see that Gov. Romney has made supporting rural America and the [RFS] a key component in his campaign,” said Jim Nussle, president and chief operating officer of Growth Energy. “This plan signals to investors and producers that America’s commitment to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs that revitalize rural America remain a top priority for a candidate seeking the office of the Presidency. By providing certainty, investors can continue to follow through on their research and development of cutting edge technology, producing fuels right here at home, strengthening our energy independence and ensuring that America’s money is reinvested right here in the American economy, instead of sending it overseas. Governor Romney understands that when it comes to energy security and domestic energy development, continued dependency on foreign sources is not acceptable. Through continued support of the RFS, biofuels such as ethanol and rural America, we can ensure that we continue to create jobs and spur innovation, revitalizing America’s heartland.”

Regarding energy, the Romney agenda also calls says that the Obama administration has “sought to restrict the production of oil, significantly increase federal regulation of natural gas, and bankrupt coal power plants, all while relentlessly promoting has favored alternatives.”

According to the white paper, Romney will “pursue policies that take full advantage of these resources, putting America on the path to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020 and guaranteeing a long-term competitive advantage for key sectors of the economy, including manufacturing and agriculture.” In addition, the paper said his will advance new technologies by funding early-stage research and ensuring that breakthroughs are able to reach the market and compete on a level playing field.

The policy paper also addresses the Farm Bill. While the document said that the legislation provides important peace of mind for farmers and ranchers through programs that help manage market volatility and respond to natural disasters, the paper makes no mention of the Farm Bill’s Energy Title and whether the Romney administration would be supportive of the programs it includes, such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and countless others.