EPA Continues Ethanol Mandate

The Environmental Protection Agency recently rejected requests from several states to waive ethanol mandates in light of a recent drought.

In an effort to encourage renewable energy production and encourage sustainable fuel consumption, the EPA, the US Department of Agriculture and President Obama all got behind a renewable energy law that sets nationwide ethanol production mandates. The law requires the production of about 13 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 15 billion by 2015.

The law has been praised by corn farmers across the country, who have seen crop prices increase as a result. The mandates are especially good news given the severe losses suffered by corn farmers during this summer’s recent drought. With production plummeting, the increased prices caused by the ethanol mandate have helped many corn farmers protect their bottom line.

The mandate, however, is bitterly opposed by ranchers and livestock farmers. The same prices increases that are helping insulate corn farmers from their summer losses are driving up feed costs. These increased costs, combined with increased fuel costs and water costs, have driven some ranchers to the brink of bankruptcy (it also doesn’t help that many ranchers are not covered by crop insurance programs).

The recent waiver request from several states came largely on the behest of these ranchers, who hoped that eliminating the mandate would help lower feed prices. The agency, however, turned these requests down. “We recognize that this year’s drought has created hardship in some sectors of the economy, particularly for livestock producers,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “But our extensive analysis makes clear that congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met and that waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard will have little, if any, impact.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer