Iowa’s Senate race between Ernst and Greenfield is heating up

Voters in the heart of Iowa hear from two Senate candidates on energy, healthcare, and storm recovery.

Moderators at the Iowa Press Debate had to reign in a heated exchange between Republican Senator Joni Ernst and Democratic challenges Theresa Greenfield.

Ethanol has been a major point of contention for both campaigns. “I have been endorsed by the Iowa Corn Growers. I have also been endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau, because they know how hard I have been fighting for ethanol and for biodiesel. Going toe-to-toe with even members of my own party to make sure that we are upholding those renewable fuel standards,” Sen. Ernst states.

Right off the bat, Ernst took a jab from Greenfield over the Trump administration’s unpopular expansion of gap year waivers for small refiners that do not meet biofuel standards.

Greenfield pointed instead to the clean energy movement: “We have to take urgent climate action, that is for sure, and farmers agree with this. In my “Fair Shot For Farmers” plan I focus on a number of things from trade, to leveling the playing field to investing in conservation-- making it a new commodity for our farmers and our land owners... Focusing on making sure that we become the first net zero farming industry in the world, and a part of that is ethanol.”

From flooding to the derecho, Iowa has experienced significant storm damage in the past two years. Ernst says that she has worked with the federal government to bring relief to the state and find climate solutions.

“I do think that through FEMA a number of programs are offered to buy out those landowners,” Ernst states. “So, there are programs that are in existence, but bottom line, we as a state have really been at the cutting edge of implementing different types of conservation projects... making sure we are investing in renewable fuels, whether its wind energy, solar energy, or even our fuel space with biodiesel and ethanol. That’s one way we can help the environment.”

Greenfield says that the government moved to slowly in the wake of the storm and should be more responsive when disaster strike.

“We need to be prepared in the future for these next storms and I believe we can do a better job at that,” Greenfield adds. “We also need to take a look at this storm and make sure that we’re looking to see if that we can get some coverage for grain bins and the grain that’s been damaged... if we can get debris covered for individuals on their properties.

The hour-long debate also included discussion on healthcare, the social justice movement, social security, and tax reform.