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Transcription Of Senator Grassley's Agriculture News Conference

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

GRASSLEY: Late yesterday, I received word that officials from
EPA, that they accepted my invitation to travel to Iowa. Both Regina
McCarthy and Margo Oge will be coming to Iowa on September 3rd. I
appreciate the administration's willingness to visit and see firsthand
the impact their agency has on farmers and agriculture. The previous
administrator has been to an Iowa farm, and we had a very good
discussion about agriculture. I expect the same will happen with
Assistant Administrator McCarthy and Director Oge.

We'll be putting together the agenda in upcoming days, and we'll
get it released as soon as possible. But, generally, we will be in
the Des Moines area visiting the family farm, bio-refinery, and
probably a few other places.

Dan Looker?

QUESTION: Good morning, Senator.

I'm sorry I missed your call last week. I was at a fuel ethanol
workshop in Denver, and I just wondered if, in light of EPA's decision
to accept your invitation to Iowa and the fact that they will be
visiting an ethanol plant, are you feeling any better about the
prospects for a couple of things that they control?

One would be the decision on how to evaluate indirect land use
and the renewable fuel standard. And then I guess maybe is it the
Department of Energy that would bump up the blend rate to...

GRASSLEY: No. That would be EPA as well.

QUESTION: That's also EPA?

GRASSLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: OK. Do you think prospects are any better for
revising the indirect land use calculation and bumping up the blend
rate above 10 percent?

GRASSLEY: Well, you know, those -- some of those things may be
decided even before we get there. But the idea is, generally, because
there's four or five very major things that effect agriculture which
you named you one or two. And then you've got the -- well, you
included the indirect land use. You've got the fugitive dust thing.
You've got the methane from manure and the cattle tax. And then
you've got the issue with point-source pollution from the nozzles of
sprayers, et cetera, like that.

That's what we're trying to get just an understanding of. Now,
you understand that some of these people have never been on a farm,
and so the idea is to acquaint them for the first time with American
agriculture. Because they're making so many decisions affecting
agriculture, they ought to see firsthand how a family farm operates.

QUESTION: OK. Do you think the cattle tax -- you know, I've
heard that that really -- that isn't something they really have...

GRASSLEY: No, I guess -- I guess I've had some satisfaction
along that line, too, plus the fact that the House -- it looks to me
like the House Environment Committee is trying to put a stop to that
or maybe clarify that that isn't something EPA could do anyway.

But, you know, it's out there, and it scares the farmers. And we
have to respond to it. And if there would be any substance to it,
we'd want to get it stopped. And so all of this stuff works in that
direction.

QUESTION: OK. Well, thank you very much.

GRASSLEY: Tom Rider?

QUESTION: Good morning, Senator.

Senator, I know there's a lot of concern out there on climate
change legislation and what it might cost an average consumer. There
were some figures out yesterday that climate change could cost the
average household $175 a year starting in 2020. But that kind of
conflicts with other figures that were much higher.

Your concerns at this time and what you're seeing happening with
that?

GRASSLEY: Well, as far as when you turn your light switch on, it
might -- it might be a lot less than the $3,000 I've used for an
individual family through their light bill. But don't forget, it's
equivalent to a tax on energy, and it works its way through the
economy anyplace where there's manufacturing or the use of energy.

And so the $3,000 figure is a pretty good figure what it would
cost a family of four.

OK. Gene, Iowa Farmer?

QUESTION: Hi. Yes, Senator.

Secretary Chu was quoted as saying that he wants to see all
vehicles be E-85 but not looking to require that. Any thoughts on
that issue?

GRASSLEY: Well, I have thoughts along the lines of incentives
that could come through government to put them in. But the most
important thing is I think we ought to concentrate on making ethanol
more outlets for ethanol or I should say for E-85 ethanol. Because I
think when you get the outlets, you're going to have the cars
manufactured to a greater extent and, to some extent, you're going to
make greater use of cars that already have the capability that are not
burning it.

GRASSLEY: And then what we're trying to do is -- there's a place
in the -- in the stimulus bill where we're trying to work with the
administration on getting money out for flex-fuel vehicles.

Julie, Brownfield?

QUESTION: No questions.

GRASSLEY: Ken Root?

QUESTION: Senator, I wonder if you could talk about this climate
change bill -- the Waxman-Markey bill. It looks like, in the House,
it's heading for a vote, perhaps, this week.

I wonder if you could take under the perspective of agriculture
and whether or not this is too much, too soon.

GRASSLEY: It is too much, too soon from the standpoint of
agriculture because it doesn't give agriculture enough credit for what
already has done in production agriculture to cut down on energy use
and, hence, CO2 going into the air.

You know, they're going to give just a little bit of credit for
recent advancements in no till and minimum till. And we've been doing
that for 20 years, maybe longer for some farmers. And more
importantly, how we have enhanced productivity per acre using less
energy and yet productivity has gone up.

Just think of the increase in the last 20 years of the corn grown
per acre, soybeans per acre, what's been accomplished through GMOs and
those sort of things that have made agriculture more productive and,
at the same time, using less energy per bushel produced. And we're
just not getting credit for it.

Now, Congressman Peterson, is trying to bring that -- some of
that to the table. And I would assume that they wouldn't go ahead
with a vote this week if there's not some accommodation along
Congressman Peterson's line of thinking, which is similar to mine.

And from that standpoint, as of yesterday, I have been told that
there's not any such agreement.

QUESTION: Could I ask you just a little bit more on that?

GRASSLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And that is worldwide, what if we were to go back to
another Kyoto type of meeting and have everybody come into this before
we start unilaterally legislating?

GRASSLEY: Oh, well, you're speaking to everything that's in my
heart on that issue. And maybe I've expressed this to some of you
before, but -- and maybe I'd say this more in regard to manufacturing
than agriculture. But everything you said still applies.

And that is that the United States is moving ahead with this
legislation under the presumption that the United States, being a
great economy and a great country of leadership position in the world,
that we ought to be taking steps forward to set the tone for what
might be going on at an international treaty agreement negotiations in
Copenhagen in December.

Now, that's been my position because when you do that, you
include China and India, which pollute more CO2 than the United
States. So if the United States would go off on its own for moral
leadership and the rest of the world didn't come through with the
agreement, we would be stuck with our law and then, pretty soon, on
every door or manufacturing, you'd see a sign "Closed; moved to China"
because you could move to China and not have to worry about all the
costs that cap-and-trade would put on you if you continued your
manufacturing in the United States.

So you would not have a level playing field for American
manufacturing. You would outsource for jobs to China. And quite
ironically, a lot of the people that are pushing cap-and-trade
legislation are the very same ones that's been complaining over the
last 10 years about our outsourcing so many jobs to China. So, in a
sense, they're talking in conflict with themselves.

QUESTION: Thank you.

GRASSLEY: Chris -- oh, I skipped Julie at Brownfield.

OK. Chris Clayton?

QUESTION: I don't have any other questions, Senator.

GRASSLEY: Stacia Cudd?

OK. Gary Digiuseppe?

QUESTION: Senator, what do you think of the Clean Water
Restoration Act that Environment and Public Works passed last weeks?

GRASSLEY: I can't answer your question. Well, wait a minute,
let me back up. I'll bet I know which one -- does it deal with the
EPA? I mean, with the Corps of Engineers and navigable waters?

QUESTION: This is bill that would store permitting on all waters
of the United States, not just those deemed navigable.

GRASSLEY: Yes. I would -- and it overturns court decisions. I
would vote against it. I don't want Corps of Engineers having the
power to regulate every place where a drop of rain falls.

QUESTION: There was an amendment to it that I guess was crafted
by our colleague there on Finance, Senator Baucus, that says there
won't be any additional permitting beyond what there already would
have been before the court decision. Does that influence your
decision at all?

GRASSLEY: No, not at all.

QUESTION: Why not?

GRASSLEY: Well, because of conflict with property rights and the
word "navigable." Navigable meant where a ship could go. And we
ought to stick with the original interpretation of -- and definition
of navigable.

QUESTION: OK. Thank you.

GRASSLEY: Philip Brasher?

QUESTION: Yes, Senator. There was -- stuck on the climate bill,
Speaker Pelosi's put out an announcement late tonight that they
had reached an agreement, I guess, in principle with Peterson and the
others. So they were planning for -- to take this to the floor by
Friday.

What are the...

GRASSLEY: You're talking cap-and-trade?

QUESTION: Right. Don't have any details -- any details of what
they agreed to. But what's -- can you talk about it now, what the --
the prospects? Is this dead in the Senate?

GRASSLEY: Oh, I don't...

QUESTION: Or what's it...

GRASSLEY: I don't think it...

QUESTION: How would it have to be changed?

GRASSLEY: I can't answer the last question, but it's not dead in
the sense it would never be brought up. It just isn't going to be
brought up immediately because they don't have 60 votes. And so I
think what happens there is you go through a process of negotiation
maybe to make it reasonable, more reasonable than what the House bill
is.

QUESTION: What would it take to get the 60 votes to make it more
reasonable?

GRASSLEY: I don't...

QUESTION: Or reasonable enough?

GRASSLEY: I don't know from the standpoint -- I've told you my
position is that we ought to rely on an international agreement
because we need a level playing field with China and India which put
more CO2 in the air than we do. And we need that level playing field
so we don't outsource more manufacturing jobs to China.

OK. I've gone through the entire list. Anybody else want to jump in. Okay. Thank you all very much.


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