Senators Propose Bill to Eliminate the Corn Ethanol Mandate

10 U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan bill to eliminate the mandate, arguing that the current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment.

A group of 10 U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan bill last week to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, arguing that current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment. The bill, introduced by Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, faces an uphill battle as many lawmakers from agricultural states support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that dictates that rising volumes of ethanol made from grains, including corn, be blended into motor fuel.

Feinstein said the new proposed bill supports development of advanced biofuels, including those from made from soybean oil, grasses and trees, but eliminates the mandate for corn-based ethanol, which currently represents the vast majority of biofuels produced in the United States.

"I strongly support requiring a shift to low-carbon advanced biofuel, including biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and other revolutionary fuels. But a corn ethanol mandate is simply bad policy," Feinstein said in a statement. 

Coburn said the corn ethanol mandate costs taxpayers billions of dollars and causes higher fuel prices at the pump. "Eliminating this mandate will let market forces, rather than political and parochial forces, determine how to diversify fuel supplies in an ever-changing marketplace," Coburn said.

The ethanol industry suffered a blow last month when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first cut in the use of biofuels since the law was expanded in 2007, cutting the overall 2014 mandate to 15.21 billion gallons, about 16 percent less than the current 2014 mandate's 18.15 billion gallons, and below this year's requirement of 16.55 billion gallons.

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