Speed Reads

Picking sides

Two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Trump calls for more ethanol

At an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Tuesday, Donald Trump called for the Environmental Protection Agency to follow the ethanol volumes set by Congress in 2007 and to increase the volume of ethanol mixed into the nation's gasoline supply. "The EPA should ensure that biofuel... blend levels match the statutory level set by Congress under the [renewable fuel standard]," Trump said in a speech just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The mandate has long been popular among Iowans, as 47 percent of the state's corn goes to ethanol production.

Trump's support came just hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad attacked Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz for his opposition to ethanol mandates, which Cruz sees as an "unwanted subsidy to corn growers," The New York Times reports. "I'm convinced he may well lose this because of his stand on ethanol," Branstad said in an interview about Cruz's chances in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, adding that Cruz is "heavily financed by Big Oil."

Trump, however, says he's "100 percent" behind the ethanol industry. "Energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again," Trump said, seemingly reading from notes in a departure from his usual animated manner of speaking. "My theme is 'Make America Great Again.' It's an important part of it."