Senators introduce bill to repeal corn-ethanol mandate

Source: By Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Corn-based ethanol would no longer have to be blended into gasoline under a proposal Friday by two senators.

The measure, introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would be part of a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline – something President Barack Obama has threatened to veto. The provision would end the corn component of the Renewable Fuel Standard that requires a certain amount of the fuel to be blended into the gasoline supply, but keep in place other parts of the 2007 law, such as those for biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.

“Once again, this is the government using corporate welfare to shower money on a favored industry and then send the bill to the general public,” Toomey said. “Labor leaders, businesses, and environmental groups have lined up to push back against this harmful regulatory regime.”

The lawmakers said the mandate drives up the cost of gas and food, damages car engines, and is harmful to the environment. Environmentalists and the oil, restaurant and automobile industries made similar arguments in opposing the mandate.

The Senate is expected to begin voting on amendments to the Keystone bill next week, though it is uncertain whether the proposal to end the Renewable Fuel Standard will be included.

Iowa, the largest ethanol-producing state, produced 3.9 billion gallons last year – about 27 percent of U.S. production.

Ethanol groups were quick to blast the Senate measure.

“The Feinstein/Toomey amendment is founded upon a false premise,” said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. “This amendment is an unnecessary solution to an imaginary problem. If approved, it would set our nation’s energy, economic, and climate agenda back decades.”

Last month, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said the ethanol industry is facing uncertainty in Congress. Growth is further hindered by the inability of consumers to have access to higher blends of ethanol, such as gasoline containing 15 percent of the largely corn-based fuel, the group said.