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Senators Feinstein, Toomey introduce bill to repeal ethanol mandate in RFS

US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have introduced a bill to abolish the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is also a co-sponsor of the measure.

The federal mandate for corn ethanol is both unwise and unworkable. Our bill addresses that with a simple, smart modification to the Renewable Fuel Standard program. A significant amount of US corn is currently used for fuel. If the mandate continues to expand toward full implementation, the price of corn will increase. According to the Congressional Budget Office, that would mean as much as $3.5 billion each year in increased food costs. Americans living on the margins simply can’t afford that.

Our infrastructure has a ceiling for the amount of corn ethanol that can be used, and we're rapidly approaching it. Companies are physically unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for many gas stations and older automobiles. The mandate also pits corn ethanol against other renewable fuels, which has stunted the growth of environmentally-friendly advanced biofuels like biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. Once the mandate for corn ethanol is gone, the RFS program will be able to focus on those fuels that best reduce greenhouse gas emissions and don’t compete with our food supply.

—Sen. Feinstein

In response, the Renewable Fuels Association said that Senators Feinstein and Toomey continue to operate under the misguided assumption that the RFS is driving food prices higher.

It is not. Corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed! As the World Bank recently concluded, ‘most of the contribution to food price changes from 1997-2004 and 2005-2012 comes from the price of oil.’

… he sad irony of the Feinstein-Toomey effort is that, if passed, the sector most likely to be harmed would be the advanced and cellulosic technologies that are just now realizing commercial success. This bill would desolate investment in that nascent sector by crushing the foundation upon which those new technologies hope to build.

—Renewable Fuels Association


Brent Jatko

Certain to be opposed by farmers in Iowa, a Presidential caucus state.

I'd be interested to see how this plays out in the Senate with the current obsessive focus (already!) on the 2016 elections.


Repeal the mandate anyway, just to screw with Archer Daniels-Midland.

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