We need an alternative solution for ethanol post-2022

Source: By MARSHALL CHRISTMANN, The Hutchinson News • Posted: Monday, April 17, 2017

During my time serving as a state representative and member of the House Agriculture Committee, I learned how precious the ag industry is to our great state.

Corn, in particular, has become an important crop due in part to its use in ethanol production. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a program that requires a certain amount of corn ethanol or other biofuels be blended into gasoline, helped establish a demand and vibrant market for corn ethanol, creating opportunities for rural development and community jobs.

Unfortunately, the potential for Kansas to further capitalize on ethanol and corn markets is in jeopardy. In 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take over administration of the RFS with no congressional input. With its new authority, the EPA will have the ability to reduce required blending volumes of corn ethanol or remove ethanol from the mandate entirely. This is a likely scenario considering the EPA, regardless of which political party is in control, has always seen corn ethanol as merely a bridge to greater reliance on advanced biofuels.

If corn ethanol volumes are lowered or eliminated, it would decrease the demand for corn and ethanol and obstruct economic growth. With Kansas already facing an extreme budget shortfall, we cannot afford to allow one of Kansas’ most profitable industries to be controlled by an unaccountable government agency.

For the sake of Kansas’ future, we must find an alternative solution for ethanol post-2022. It’s time to examine the RFS program and consider new pathways that allow corn ethanol to compete in the fuel marketplace free from government mandates.