JOHNSTON — Ryan Melton differs from many of his fellow Democrats on ethanol policy. He embraced Iowa landowners’ opposition to proposed carbon capture pipelines sooner than his fellow Democrats.
Perhaps that’s just Melton, or perhaps it’s a product of running as a Democrat in western Iowa, the most conservative area of the state.
Regardless, Melton, who is challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra in this fall’s election, insists he has thought through his policy positions, and not arrived at them merely for political gain.
“I don’t have a paid, Washington, D.C., consultant that tells me what to say. I don’t have any paid consultants that tell me what to say,” Melton said Friday while taping this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS. “My words are my own. I have a master’s degree. I’m a smart guy. I can look at the data in front of me without bias, without corporate influence and make conclusions that I think are sound and reasonable.
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“And so in this space as far as political messaging, I don’t say anything that I have first put through the ElectionTron 5000 to make sure that it appeases enough voters. I say the truth. I try to do the right things regardless.”
Melton appeared as a solo guest on this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” after Feenstra declined an invitation from Iowa PBS to debate Melton.
Iowa PBS is hosting debates for Iowa’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, and for the campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor.
Melton said he does not believe eminent domain — the government acquiring private land for use for a project — should be used for carbon capture pipelines, three of which have been proposed in Iowa.
Many Republican elected officials in Iowa have either supported the pipeline projects or failed to support policies that would delay or halt them. Democrats have been hesitant to embrace opposition to the pipeline projects, although Melton said he believes more are coming around to his position.
“I have been opposed to carbon capture pipelines since Day 1,” Melton said. “I have been so outspoken about it since the beginning that more and more candidates have come to my position over the course of the year. I think a lot of it is the carbon capture pipeline companies are attempting to green wash these projects as environmentally friendly projects, when all they’re really going to do is take the liquefied CO2 and grab more, harder-to-extract oil. It’s not a climate change solution. But it is sold that way.”
On ethanol, Melton said he does not believe there should be an expansion of policies like proposals to increase the percentage of ethanol blended in the nation’s fuel supply.
He said he does not believe the industry is sustainable long-term, which could prove dangerous to corn farmers who are reliant upon ethanol. More than half of the corn grown in Iowa is used to make the fuel.
“Go talk to a corn grower on the ground. Don’t talk to a processor, don’t talk to a fertilizer company, talk to a farmer on the ground. And ask them, ‘Give me both a short, mid- and long-term assessment of whether what you’re doing right now is ecologically and economically sound.’ And they’ll tell you, ‘No, I’m really concerned, but I don’t have enough politicians that are talking about the nuance there, and I don’t have enough politicians that are caring about funding trade development programs and market development programs beyond corn ethanol. So I’m really on shaky ground here. I need more brave people to stand up for me.’
“And that is what I hear over and over again from Democrats, Republicans, independents and Libertarians on the ground.”
“Iowa Press” can be viewed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, and at iowapbs.org.