Senators introduce bill to eliminate corn ethanol mandate

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A group of 10 U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, arguing that current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment.

The bill, introduced by Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat; Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican; and eight cosponsors, faces an uphill battle as many lawmakers from agricultural states support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)that dictates that rising volumes of ethanol made from grains, including corn, be blended into motor fuel.

Feinstein said the bill supports development of advanced biofuels, including those from made from soybean oil, grasses and trees. But it would eliminate the mandate for corn-based ethanol, which currently represents the vast majority of biofuels produced in the United States.

She said the corn mandate diverts a large proportion of the U.S. corn crop towards making fuel, raising animal feed and food prices.

In 2012/13, over 4.6 billion bushels of corn was used for the production of ethanol and by-products, out of a drought-reduced total U.S. supply of 11.9 billion bushels, according to the Department of Agriculture.

"I strongly support requiring a shift to low-carbon advanced biofuel, including biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and other revolutionary fuels. But a corn ethanol mandate is simply bad policy," Feinstein said in a statement.

Coburn said the corn ethanol mandate costs taxpayers billions of dollars and causes higher fuel prices at the pump.

"Eliminating this mandate will let market forces, rather than political and parochial forces, determine how to diversify fuel supplies in an ever-changing marketplace," Coburn said.

The ethanol industry suffered a blow last month when the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the RFS, proposed the first cut in the use of biofuels since the law was expanded in 2007.

The EPA proposed cutting the overall 2014 mandate to 15.21 billion gallons, about 16 percent less than the current 2014 mandate's 18.15 billion gallons, and below this year's requirement of 16.55 billion gallons.

(Editing by Ros Krasny and Bernadette Baum)



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MEL    
NE  |  December, 13, 2013 at 09:09 AM

Beware of senators Coburn and Fienstien.as they carry the dirty water for The American Petroleum Int. The pork and other livestock interests must think that our corn is their God given right to by it cheap.Stop attacking your fellow farmers and learn that Farm Prosperity is not bad .$1.30 live cattle must be tough.

Dave    
Indiana  |  December, 13, 2013 at 09:12 AM

So let me see if I got this right? Using corn for ethanol is "bad". Using soybean oil, grass and trees is "good". Seems like big livestock feeders have found some Senators to put on their "payroll". I guess it's only fair, "big corn" has had their own Senators for many years. When will the average citizen wake up and see that our government has been highjacked and sold to the highest bidder! We have to stop the big money that buys elections.

Chris Hitch    
Oklahoma  |  December, 13, 2013 at 09:52 AM

Mandated ethanol production and blending requirements are fine to reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Mandated CORN ethanol is bad because it artificially inflates demand for corn. Require the ethanol and blending in our gasoline. Just don't force it to be corn ethanol.

anonymous    
Nebraska  |  December, 14, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Apparently no one has considered that in the production of grain ethanol that the bi-products are livestock feed in the form of wet and dried distillers. These bi-products can and usually are a better feed than straight corn. Right now the cost of DDG is going up because China is importing as much as possible to feed their "people" not animals but humans. Many ethanol producers right now are making more money off these bi-products than from the ethanol with it's subsidy. So I find it hard to stomach this argument anymore that we are taking food away from people.


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