News Column

Fact Check: NextGen claims Ernst would eliminate support for Iowa renewables

August 9, 2014

By B.A. Morelli, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa



Aug. 09--Introduction

"Joni Ernst would eliminate support for Iowa renewables"

Source of claim

NextGen Climate Action Committee in a television ad called "Factory" running in Iowa.

Analysis

The television ad by the political action committee founded by hedge fund manager and environmentalist Ted Steyer attacks Joni Ernst, an Iowa state senator and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, on her position on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Ernst's opponent is U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat.

The RFS provides subsidies to renewable fuels industries, such as ethanol and biodiesel, which support thousands of jobs and help fuel Iowa's economy.

Ernst has called on TV stations, including KCRG-TV9, to remove the ad claiming it "deliberately distorts information." KCRG-TV9 is not removing the ad.

The ad begins with a narrator describing how the closing of Maytag nearly killed Newton, and how renewable energy has revived the town with hundreds of jobs.

The ad claims Ernst's "pledge to the special interests could cost Iowa jobs."

One man asks, "What are we going to do if we don't have people working?"

The ad is referring to Ernst signing a pledge in 2013 with Americans for Tax Relief.

Signers of the pledge "oppose efforts to increase marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses" and "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

The pledge doesn't address subsidies.

NextGen cites a December 2013 newspaper column by former Republican Speaker of the House Christopher Rants, of Sioux City, as the source for claiming Ernst would 'eliminate support for Iowa renewables.'

However, in reading the column, Ernst never said that.

Rants quoted from Ernst's staff, who laid out Ernst's position on RFS.

"Joni Ernst does not believe the government should pick winners and losers in our economy, and therefore, from a philosophical standpoint, she does not believe in taxpayer subsidies. However, she believes if we were to end these subsidies, it would have to be done across the board, for every sector at the exact same time -- meaning until and unless that day comes, Joni will passionately stand in defense of RFS."

Ernst has made similar comments and taken action in recent months that supports the RFS. In January, she signed a resolution in the Iowa Senate, urging the federal government to renew its commitment to a sustainable RFS.

In a July 29 letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Ernst urged the EPA not to pursue cuts to the renewable fuels standard, citing their importance to Iowa jobs and the economy.

Conclusion

NextGen is entirely misleading in its use of the word "would" in claiming Ernst would eliminate support for Iowa renewables.

Ernst said she opposes subsidies philosophically, and "would" eliminate them in a perfect world in which all subsidies are eliminated. But, in the same breath, she has said she will "passionately" defend the RFS until that day comes.

Ernst has also taken several steps to protect the RFS, including supporting resolutions and writing to the EPA.

Her efforts run contrary to NextGen claims, which are misleading and taken out of context.

We rate NextGen's claim as false.

Sources

Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d21Fjn5a-Aw

Rants: http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/opinion/columnists/the-regulars-how-do-iowa-gop-senate-candidates-stand-on/article_ef39263b-62a2-5a2e-9db9-d41cdec414c6.html

RFS resolution: http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp? Category=billinfo & Service=Billbook & menu=false & ga=85 & hbill=SR101

Ernst letter to EPA: http://www.joniforiowa.com/epa-letter-07-29-14/? utm_medium=email & utm_source=sp & utm_campaign=20140729_21196915_Joni%20For%20Iowa & utm_content=body_text_HERE_1 & Auto_Number= & action=email_click

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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(c)2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

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