HELENA — Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke took issue Thursday with elements of the energy plan proposed by his Democratic opponent, John Lewis.
“His plan is dropping the subsidies for ethanol and then changing it for a subsidy for biofuels,” Zinke said. “I am not for a subsidy across the board. You don’t subsidize wind, ethanol or biofuel. You go to a free market.”
Lewis called for ending the corn ethanol mandate and increasing the cellulosic fuels component of the federal renewable fuels standard, while adding Montana-made biofuels such as biodiesel produced from Montana camelina to the fuels standard.
Zinke said he is not against alternative energy, but added: “When it goes out of the laboratory into the field, then it has to compete on its own merits, unsubsidized.”
“I think what you’ll find is ethanol is no longer necessary and biofuel is no longer cost-effective in comparison to natural gas as a result of the shale play,” he said.
Zinke said the United States has the opportunity to become energy independent, create jobs and attract U.S. manufacturing companies that moved overseas. The energy for that will come primarily from the fossil fuel sector — oil, gas and coal, the former state senator from Whitefish said.