Anti-ethanol groups urge Congress to end “harmful” biofuels mandate

Source: by Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Food, dairy and environmental groups said Congress needs to move forward with legislation to end a mandate requiring ethanol to be blended into the country’s gasoline supply.

The National Chicken Council, the National Restaurant Association, and the Environmental Working Group were among an estimated 40 organizations that signed a letter this week urging action from Capitol Hill lawmakers.

The trade groups said a move by the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the amount of ethanol blended into the motor fuel supply, a mandate known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, is a good first step, but more needs to be done to end the “harmful federal policy.” A series of bills have been introduced in Congress this year that would end or roll back the policy.

“Although the EPA is proposing a minor reduction in the overall volume of biofuels required by the mandate … this reduction will do little to reduce ethanol’s share of the annual corn crop and virtually nothing to alleviate the broad economic and environmental damage currently caused by using corn for fuel,” the organizations said in a letter dated Dec. 10. “Only Congress can solve this problem,” they said.

Last month, the EPA proposed cutting the fuel requirement in 2014 to 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels, 3 billion gallons below what Congress required in a 2007 law. Traditional biofuels, comprised mostly of corn, would be reduced to 13 billion gallons from 14.4 billion. The decline marked the first time the White House, which has made renewable fuels a focal point of its energy agenda, scaled back the blend level.

The EPA is expected to finalize 2014 blending level requirements in the spring of next year.