This post is by Sally Goldenberg from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories
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GOWRIE, Iowa — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would speed up his stalled organics waste program during his first presidential campaign stop outside an ethanol facility here Friday morning.
The mayor, who has been making environmental issues central to his burgeoning candidacy, said he would ask the City Council for legislation to mandate organic waste collection.
"We’re going to be doing a lot more with our organics program; we’re going to go to the City Council for legislation to make it mandatory," he said, in response to a reporter’s question after touring the POET Biorefining Ethanol Facility with former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who also served as Agriculture secretary to then President Barack Obama.
Asked for a timeline, he said, "It’s coming up this year."
Despite his vow, the mayor’s executive budget doesn’t include funding to expand the current voluntary organics collection program, prompting criticism environmental groups. De Blasio promised to pursue a "zero waste" to landfills pledge as a key aspect of his environmental agenda. Rotting waste sent to landfills is a significant source of greenhouse gases.
De Blasio also said he would be "doing a lot more also to encourage recycling. A lot of work to do on that front but I’m very hopeful." New York City has a residential recycling rate of roughly 17 percent.
After the site tour, which lasted for a few minutes, de Blasio also touted the benefit of biofuels — combustible fuels produced from vegetable products like corn and soybeans. Corn-based ethanol has traditionally been of particular importance to Iowa farmers.
The mayor said he appreciated "seeing the POET plant here and seeing the potential for biofuels in the future and for all the ways this can support an inclusive rural economy that works for everyday Americans and creates opportunity and is green and is healthy for the planet."
De Blasio added biofuels "are a really important part of the future" as a replacement for fossil fuels.
Vilsack, who described himself as "sort of like the Walmart greeters for presidential candidates here in Iowa," said he wanted to make sure de Blasio understood the Trump administration’s position on waivers "that is undercutting the renewable fuel standard and undercutting the capacity of this plant and the many, many other plants like it.
"The Trump administration is favoring the petroleum industry," de Blasio added. He said the president has avoided opportunities to help the biofuels industry grow in favor of petroleum companies.
De Blasio announced his candidacy Thursday, making him the 23rd Democrat to enter the primary field. After touring the country’s first presidential caucus state, he will head to South Carolina this weekend.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine