U.S. Senator Pat Toomey recently requested the EPA relax the requirements to blend an increasing amount of ethanol into gasoline. The RFS has mandated the use of corn-based ethanol in the United States since 2008. These standards require the use of 13.2 billion gallons of that ethanol in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons in 2013.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Sen. Toomey and six other senators asked the EPA not increase the renewable fuel standard in 2013 and keep it at the 2012 level, in response to the widespread drought. None of the Senators hailed from states that produce an abundance of corn.
Other letters to the EPA covering the same topic have included bipartisan lawmakers, so this is seemingly a "duh" letter and not a political battle.
In the letter, Sen. Toomey had several farmers, ranchers, grocers, and others write how high amounts of corn used in ethanol hurts them, drives their prices higher, and forces them to charge higher prices to nearly every American:
"The ethanol mandate is an ill-advised policy that raises the cost of groceries for American families. Sen. Toomey understands that, and he has shown great leadership on this issue," said Tom Dempsey, president of Utz Quality Foods in Hanover.
"Our costs at Herr's have risen dramatically over the past two years. Pennsylvania employs thousands of people in the snack food industry, and these jobs are put at risk by increasing prices caused by the ethanol mandate. We're thankful Sen. Toomey is focused on the unintended consequences of this policy," said J.M. Herr, chairman and chief executive officer of Herr's in Nottingham.
"As cattle producers in the retail beef business, we're losing the battle against artificially inflated corn prices and limited supplies of corn. These factors are the result of an ethanol industry that has forced us to reduce our herd by half. It is time to remove the renewable fuel standard, which will return the ethanol industry to the free market and give American consumers the freedom to decide if corn should be burned in gas tanks or used for food production," said John Port, owner of Clarion Farms in Clarion.
"I thank Sen. Toomey for his leadership on this issue. Raw material costs at our facility in Berks County have risen 39 percent, and I can attribute that entire increase to the feed costs of the cattle, which is in turn is directly related to ethanol subsidies and mandates. These policies are putting severe constraints on our ability to expand and hire," said Sergei Szortyka, president of Quaker Maid Meats in Reading.
"Our family has been in the food business for 117 years. Federal ethanol policy makes food more expensive for everyone, especially hurting those with low incomes. With the current drought our country is experiencing, not only will food prices go up, but so will fuel prices because of the rising cost of corn. If this drought continues, we may not have enough American-grown grain to feed our animals. I appreciate Sen. Toomey's stand to seek a change in the renewable fuel standards," said Phil Clemens, chairman and chief executive officer of The Clemens Family Corporation in Hatfield.
"I would like to thank Sen. Toomey for working to reverse the ethanol mandate. The ethanol mandate is hurting all of us by taking more money out of hardworking Americans' pockets with rising food prices, and it is costing our economy jobs," said Richard Pongratz, sales manager at WL Port-Land Systems in Pittsburgh.
Do you think relaxing the requirement to produce more ethanol yearly is a good idea temporarily?