The ethanol industry has seen some major changes this past month — everything from reversing the year-round sale of E15 to legislation from the House and Senate that would support the year-round sale. However, yesterday a new bipartisan bill was proposed to eliminate the corn ethanol volume mandate completely.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act, a bill to end the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard.
According to the senators, 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. However, corn groups and the ethanol industry quickly showed opposition and said removing the mandate would actually increase harmful emissions and use of fossil fuels.
The National Corn Growers Association President John Linder said, “This bill is ill conceived and would have a devastating impact on air quality, the diversity of our energy supply, fuel prices and rural economies. Blending ethanol into the fuel supply is one of the most effective ways to lower carbon emissions to combat climate change and replace the most toxic components of gasoline.”
Today’s corn growers sustainably produce more corn on less land with fewer resources than when the RFS was enacted and are committed to further improvements in sustainability. These extraordinary results have been accomplished as food price inflation has decreased as ethanol production has grown.
“The RFS has been an incredibly successful policy, thanks to the innovation and contributions of corn farmers,” said Linder. “If you want to understand today’s sustainable corn and ethanol production, you can always ask a farmer for the facts. If Members of Congress want to reduce use of the low carbon renewable fuels that have enabled successful environmental policies, this bill would certainly do it.”
NCGA pointed to today’s corn and ethanol production facts in support of the mandate:
- Corn production has doubled while primary nutrients per bushel have been cut in half. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, planted corn acres in 2021 were less than planted acres in 2007, the year the RFS was expanded. Corn production has increased because crop yields have increased from an average of 150 bushels per acre in 2007 to 172 bushels in 2020 (average production in 1980 was only 91 bushels per acre).
- Through advances in science, technology and precision equipment, growers are focused more than ever on improving resiliency and efficiency. Building on past achievements, U.S. corn growers are committed to further sustainability achievements by 2030.
- The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory GREET model shows ethanol’s carbon intensity is 44 percent to 52 percent lower than gasoline’s carbon intensity, and Argonne has found that the carbon intensity of corn-based ethanol has declined 23 percent since 2005.
- Ethanol displaces the most harmful compounds in gasoline that cause respiratory and cardiovascular harm, according to the American Lung Association. According to EPA data, as ethanol blending increased from one percent to at least 10 percent, aromatics’ share of gasoline volume dropped from nearly 25 percent to 19.3 percent.