Candidates Talk About Biofuels In Iowa Forum

This story was written by Kyle Miller, Elizabeth Ricker & Joe Mitchell, Iowa State Daily
A handful of presidential candidates engaged in debate Monday over the obstacles blocking the way for biofuel research and implementation.

Participants in the forum "Growing the Bioeconomy: Presidential Candidate Forum" -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio -- debated in a sparsely attended Hilton Coliseum on the important issues that face not only Iowa and the U.S., but the rest of the world. The forum was sponsored by Iowa State, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa State Education Association. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., was unable to attend.

McCain spoke first, outlining his stances on subsidies for ethanol, which he has opposed, and corn's connection to the global war on terrorism.

McCain said subsides on ethanol only help large-scale producers and it puts the government on the farm, adding additional burden to the farmer. His solution is reduced subsidies that will foster an environment for competitive entrepreneurs, not big government.

"Yes, I have opposed subsides, not just in Iowa, either, but in my home state of Arizona," McCain said. "I want the government to do this job, not your job."

Dodd spoke next on the issues of bioeconomy, dependence on foreign oil, affordable education and global warming.

Dodd said the divide in the cost of education has hindered America's progress in the arena of the bioeconomy. Better educated people will help the burgeoning biofuels economy.

He proposed raising Pell grants and making community college free through a corporate carbon tax.

"We aren't just going to invest our way out of this problem," Dodd said. "Education is really the beginning of it all."

Biden spoke about "America's top priority," which is cutting U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil -- namely from Nigeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran -- and issues facing the global economy, especially with China.

"China owns the mortgage on our house," he said. "I'm not interested in a bellicose relationship with China."

Biden said "saber-rattling with Iran" is a waste of time and resources and the price of oil, which is close to $100 a barrel, is intrinsically tied to "tough talk" from both Democrats and Republicans.

Biden also said E85, switchgrass and lithium ion car batteries will be a part of the solution.

Kucinich spoke about a harmony between the environment and all governments, enriched education programs and fair trade issues, which he said should be based on "human rights."

"My first act as in office would be to eliminate NAFTA and the WTO," he said.
© 2007 Iowa State Daily via U-WIRE