Presidential candidates visit biodiesel company

By Jerry W. Kram | November 20, 2007
Renewable Energy Group Inc. hosted a pair of presidential hopefuls Nov. 6 as U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., stumped for votes in Iowa.
McCain attended the ribbon cutting for REG's new 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Ames. "Biodiesel spurs economic development in local communities, reduces emissions, creates a source of renewable energy and reduces our dependence on foreign oil," said REG CEO and Chairman Jeff Stroburg. "We are proud to have Senator McCain join us for this historic day, and help educate America about the advantages of our nation's rapidly expanding biodiesel industry."

Also while in Ames, McCain spoke at the Growing the Bioeconomy conference at Iowa State University, where he reaffirmed his opposition of subsidies for renewable fuels. He said his administration would pursue market-based strategies for promoting biofuels using carbon emission credits. "This approach will build the business case for alternatives to oil, such as ethanol," McCain said. "It will promote the conservation and diversification of energy to include alcohol fuels made from corn, sugar, switchgrass and many other sources; fuel cells; biodiesel derived from waste products; natural gas; and other technologies. These are all promising and available alternatives to oil, and I'll encourage the development of infrastructure and the market growth necessary for these products to compete, and let consumers choose the winners. I've never known an American entrepreneur worthy of the name who wouldn't rather compete for sales than subsidies. I have great faith that many residents of this great state share that same confidence in our unmatched ability to compete anywhere with anyone."

Clinton toured Central Iowa Energy LLC, a 30 MMgy biodiesel production facility managed by REG in Newton. The facility employs 28 people, two-thirds of whom were formerly employed at a Maytag appliance production plant that recently closed. "This plant represents the investment of more than 500 Iowans who, like me, believe in the future of biodiesel," Stroburg said at the event. "Renewable Energy Group Inc. is proud to partner with Central Iowa Energy to create high-quality biodiesel and high-quality jobs right here in central Iowa. Senator, you've been a strong advocate for biodiesel and renewable energy, and we thank you for your commitment."

Clinton outlined her biofuels agenda, stating her desire to see production of corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels increase to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and 60 billion gallons by 2030. Her plan combines tax incentives, research, infrastructure investments and incentives for farmers to grow energy crops to reach these ambitious goals. "Our nation's dependence on foreign oil places our economy at risk, our security in jeopardy and our planet in peril," Clinton said. "I believe we can transform the way we use and produce energy, and create at least 5 million jobs in new green industries. Renewables like biodiesel can be the fuel for a brighter future. It's time for America to retake our title as the innovation nation and to launch a green energy revolution."
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