Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act, a bill to end the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The mandate 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.
The bill would help reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels by removing the volume requirements for corn ethanol while leaving in place the volume obligations for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.
“The federal corn ethanol mandate no longer makes sense when better, lower-carbon alternatives exist,” said Senator Feinstein. “Corn ethanol achieves little to no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time to end the mandate and instead support more advanced biofuels and biodiesel that won’t contribute to climate change or drive up the cost of food.”
“The federal government forcing Americans to buy billions of gallons of corn ethanol is terrible policy on many levels,” said Senator Toomey. “For starters, it imposes financial harm on consumers and refineries, risking thousands of good-paying jobs. Further, the RFS drives up the cost of gas and food, harms our environment, and damages engines. I hope my colleagues will join us in our bipartisan effort to end this backwards policy.”
“The corn ethanol mandate has failed to live up to its emissions reduction promises, while contributing to higher food prices, causing issues for motorists, and leading to other environmental damages,” said Senator Menendez. “It’s time that we move on from this misguided policy and shift our focus to real solutions that truly address climate change and reduce other harmful emissions.”
“Corn ethanol blended gasoline poses significant economic and safety risks by damaging or destroying engines of older cars, boats, and snowmobiles; causing food and feed prices to rise; and presenting significant environmental concerns,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan legislation would eliminate the corn ethanol mandate for renewable fuel, encouraging the development of alternative advanced biofuels to meet our energy and environmental challenges.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard requires gasoline and diesel producers to blend increasing volumes of renewable biofuels in their supply. Next year, the law will require 36 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended which could result in the emission of 7,600 tons of nitrogen oxides and 19,000 tons of volatile organic compounds, key drivers of climate change.
There are three main problems with continuing to mandate the consumption of corn ethanol each year:
- Increased food and feed prices: Approximately 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is now used to produce ethanol, artificially inflating food and feed prices. Ethanol production requires 38 million acres of land – an area larger than the state of Illinois – that could be used to feed 150 million people.
- Corn vs. advanced biofuels: In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act to substantially increase production of cellulosic and advanced biofuels, which have lower greenhouse gas emissions than corn ethanol, to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. Instead, corn grain remains the most dominant feedstock used for biofuel production.
- Poor environmental performance: Corn ethanol achieves little to no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over regular oil and poses other environmental risks, including deforestation, habitat destruction and diminished water quality or availability due to cropland expansion.