Washington-Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today introduced a bill to end the corn ethanol mandate, which harms the environment and drives up the cost of food.
The Toomey-Feinstein Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy (RESTORE) Act (S.2298) abolishes the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
"The federal corn ethanol mandate increases the cost of food and animal feed and contributes to climate change and it should be phased out," said Senator Feinstein. "We need to instead transition to advanced, lower carbon fuels for our transportation needs."
"The ill-conceived RFS forces American motorists to buy billions of gallons of corn ethanol each year," said Senator Toomey. "This heavy-handed federal mandate drives up the price of gas and food, damages engines, and harms the environment. I hope all my colleagues will join this bipartisan effort."
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is also an original cosponsor of the legislation.
The RFS, first enacted in 2005, requires refiners and blenders to use over 19 billion gallons of renewable fuel this year. Approximately 80 percent of this total will be met by the use of corn ethanol.
There are three key problems with continuing to mandate the consumption of more and more corn ethanol each year:
- Corn consumption: Approximately 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is now used to produce ethanol, artificially inflating food and feed prices while damaging the environment.
- Blend wall: As gasoline consumption declines, refiners face a "blend wall" when the RFS mandate exceeds the limit at which ethanol can be blended into the fuel supply, determined to be 10 percent of total gasoline consumption. Anything beyond ten percent ethanol can damage engines.
- Negative environmental impacts: Unnecessary mandates incentivize cropland expansion, which interrupts ecosystems via deforestation, habitat destruction, and, in some cases, diminished water quality or availability.