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Citing Record Drought, Senators Ask EPA to Adjust Corn Ethanol Mandate

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:30:49 CDT

Citing Record Drought, Senators Ask EPA to Adjust Corn Ethanol Mandate
With the record drought spreading across major cropland of the continental United States causing the corn harvest to shrink and prices to spike, 25 U.S. senators urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to use her existing waiver authority as soon as possible to adjust the corn-ethanol mandate for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“As stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yields lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers and foodservice providers will become more severe,” the senators wrote in a letter to Jackson. “We ask you to adjust the corn grain-ethanol mandate of the RFS to reflect this natural disaster and these new market conditions. Doing so will help to ease supply concerns and provide relief from high corn prices.”

The letter cites U.S. Department of Agriculture data that recently rated only 23 percent of the corn crop as good to excellent and 50 percent as poor to very poor because of persistent extreme heat and drought.

Senators signing the letter are: Hagan (D-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Pryor (D-AR), Boozman (R-AR), Cardin (D-MD), Isakson (R-GA), Coons (D-DE), Feinstein (D-CA), Hutchison (R-TX), Carper (D-DE), Sessions (R-AL), Mikulski (D-MD), Webb (D-VA), Warner (D-VA), Burr (R-NC), Murkowski (R-AK), Tom Udall (D-NM), Landrieu (D-LA), Shaheen (D-NH), Graham (R-SC), Coburn (R-OK), McCain (R-AZ), Crapo (R-ID), Risch (R-ID) and Manchin (D-WV).

The senators’ letter joins a growing chorus of calls for Jackson to implement the law and waive the federal mandate for the production of corn ethanol.

A large coalition of livestock, poultry, meat, dairy and feed organizations recently delivered a petition to Jackson asking for a waiver “in whole or in substantial part” of the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced under the RFS for the remainder of this year and for the portion of 2013 that is one year from the time the waiver becomes effective.

The coalition praised the senators for today’s action, saying that waiving the RFS would help livestock and poultry producers weather the worst drought in more than 50 years.

“We commend these senators for their leadership and for joining the long list of others who are calling on EPA for immediate relief from the RFS,” the groups said in response to today’s action. “Congress included safety valves that enable the agency to take such action to prevent economic harm. The worst drought since the Eisenhower administration calls for exactly the kind of flexibility that Congress envisioned. EPA has the authority to prevent a bad situation from turning worse - and should act now.”

Last week, a bipartisan group of 156 members of the House of Representatives strongly urged the EPA to act immediately to reduce the RFS mandate to account for the severe anticipated corn shortage.



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