Drought Renews Focus on Ethanol Mandate


The federal government is mandated to dedicate a certain amount of the nation’s corn every year for ethanol production. Some Illinois lawmakers say the Environmental Protection Agency should lower that amount this year because of the devastating drought that has decimated corn crops.

U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Kenilworth) said reducing the amount of corn dedicated to ethanol would help ease rising food prices.

“We want to make sure we’re keeping food prices down for the American public, certainly for our constituents, and this temporary suspension certainly seems to me to be something that makes sense,” Dold said.

U.S Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) said he is all for renewable fuels, but he said his constituents in the agriculture industry are calling this a historic drought. Shimkus said he is not necessarily opposed to the EPA altering its ethanol mandate.

“Let me put it this way, I would not shed a tear if they did it," Shimkus said. "I would understand if they did it."

Shimkus said ethanol production has decreased our dependence on foreign oil, but rising corn prices are making it more expensive for constituents to feed livestock.

He added the EPA has the authority to change the amount of corn going towards ethanol production under a law passed in 2007. Shimkus said if the EPA does not act, Congress probably will not pass a law authorizing a suspension of the mandate anytime soon.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio