Financial support, that is.
Environment and Energy Daily reports,
“So many of the candidates are afraid to mention ethanol in their policy speeches. Newt’s not one of those people,” said Walt Wendland, president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We’re working with all of the candidates … but Newt just gets it.”
In Iowa, where support for ethanol resonates most, [Iowa Renewable Fuels Association] has sharply criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for proposing to end tax credits for renewable energy yet keep subsidies for oil and gas. The organization has also bashed Perry’s fellow Repulican nominee Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann for avoiding questions on whether she supports the renewable fuels standard.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has called for an end to all energy subsidies, while Romney recently said he would not support any new subsidies. He has, however, maintained his position that ethanol is an important domestic fuel source. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he would phase out the existing blender tax incentive but in turn would use the money for investing in ethanol fueling stations.
Gingrich arguably has the longest history with ethanol, beginning in 1984, when he voted to support “gasohol,” which was then the name for the renewable fuel.
When an ethanol tax incentive was up for renewal in the late 1990s, then-Speaker Gingrich stacked a conference committee with ethanol supporters, causing House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer (R-Texas) to boycott the committee. The lawmakers struck down a provision in a highway and mass transit reauthorization bill that would have ended the subsidy.
A decade later, biofuels industry organization Growth Energy, which counts Broin of POET as a board member, hired Gingrich under contract between 2009 and early 2011. The group was just starting out and hired him “because we know of his record in Congress in support of ethanol,” said Chris Thorne, spokesman for the group.
Gingrich’s contract was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News in April, which found that the biofuels group paid Gingrich’s consulting firm $312,500 in 2009…
“People think his problem is his colorful personal life. He’s going to hope people concentrate on that, rather than on, for example, ethanol,” [George] Will said. “Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich, who has served the ethanol lobby.”