Washington—U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today offered an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill to repeal the corn ethanol mandate, a law that drives up the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is also a co-sponsor of the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015.
The Feinstein-Toomey amendment abolishes the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS requires annual increases in the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into the total volume of gasoline refined and consumed in the United States. However, the current statute effectively mandates the use of corn ethanol at the expense of other fuels. The requirement drives up the price of corn, products made from corn, livestock that feeds on corn, and many products on grocers' shelves and in refrigerators.
“The federal mandate for corn ethanol is both unwise and unworkable," said Senator Feinstein. "Roughly 40 percent of corn in the United States is currently used for fuel, which increases the price of food and animal feed while also damaging the environment. Additionally, oil companies are unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for some gas stations and older automobiles.
“This bill is a simple and smart modification of the Renewable Fuel Standard program. Once we remove the corn ethanol mandate, the RFS program can finally serve its intended purpose: to support the development of advanced, environmentally friendly biofuels like biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and other revolutionary fuels.”
"The RFS requires fuel suppliers to blend millions of gallons of biofuels -- most often corn ethanol -- into the nation's gasoline supplies. It drives up gas prices, increases food costs, damages car engines, and is harmful to the environment," said Senator Toomey.
"Under government mandates, refiners -- such as ours in Trainer, Pa. -- are forced to make a choice: increase the ethanol content in their fuel blends or pay a penalty by purchasing credits from energy traders.
"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. Labor leaders, businesses, and environmental groups have lined up to push back against this harmful regulatory regime.
"I am pleased to join with Senator Feinstein to stop the RFS before more harm is done."
Background: The Renewable Fuel Standard, first enacted in 2005, required refiners and blenders to use 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2014. More than 14 billion gallons of this total will be met by the use of corn ethanol, a level that will increase in subsequent years.
There are two 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.