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Corn Ethanol Mandate Must Go: Senate Bill Gets It Right

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For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate today would drastically curtail the serious environmental damage inflicted by corn ethanol production, the Environmental Working Group said in a statement.

The bill, authored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would reform the Renewable Fuel Standard, a law that requires refiners to blend corn ethanol into gasoline.

“The corn ethanol mandate has failed to live up to its expectations, spewed millions of tons of greenhouse gases into air and polluted American waterways with chemical farm runoff,” said Mike Lavender, policy analyst at EWG. “Worse still, the mandate has had other unintended consequences, such as engine damage and increased food price volatility.  Sens. Feinstein and Toomey are leading the way to more advanced biofuels, such as those made from perennial crops.”

The RFS, as it is known, was intended to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it has failed to do so. Instead, as EWG’s research has shown, the increased use of corn ethanol has generated more greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2008 and 2011, American farmers converted 8 million acres of grassland and wetlands to cornfields.

The Feinstein-Toomey bill would eliminate the corn ethanol portion of the mandate, removing much of the incentive to transform corn, a food crop, to biofuel. A companion bill was introduced in the House earlier this month.

EWG joined several other ethanol reform groups today to highlight problems RFS has caused for consumers: from strains on food prices to the troubles ethanol blends create for engines.

The groups, which include Action Aid, American Motorcyclist Association, BoatUS, Clean Air Task Force, are calling on Congress to protect consumers and the environment from the harms of corn ethanol.

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