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EPA Denial of Ethanol Mandate Waiver Will Hurt Farmers and Consumers

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, November 16, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Leading environmental and anti-hunger organizations – including Environmental Working Group, Clean Air Task Force and ActionAid USA – said today that the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to waive the federal ethanol fuel mandate in response to the worst drought in 50 years is a blow to livestock producers, dairy farmers and consumers alike.

The groups issued the following statement on the EPA denial of requests by the governors of Arkansas and North Carolina to waive the ethanol mandate, noting that corn prices are at all-time highs:

“We are disappointed with EPA’s decision to deny relief for those who need it most. High corn prices have put enormous pressure on livestock producers, dairy farmers and consumers, as well as the environment. While Americans struggle to stay afloat and put food on their tables, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop is being used to make ethanol – a result of the requirements of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

“This decision should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the White House that the Renewable Fuel Standard does not protect producers and consumers in times of hardship and must be reformed. Its reliance on mandates for food-based fuel – namely corn ethanol – exposes us to spiking prices whenever yields drop because of drought or other severe weather. The skyrocketing cost of animal feed will force 100 of California’s dairies out of business by year’s end. Overall food prices are expected to rise by as much as 4 percent in the coming months, with even greater increases for meat, poultry, milk and eggs. These mandates have also spurred the conversion of 23 million acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands and grasslands – an area the size of Indiana – to row crops, mostly corn.

In order to stem further damage, we urge that lawmakers in Congress consider a responsible phase-out of the corn ethanol mandate. No amount of tinkering can substitute for the impact of real reform.”

Read EWG's joint comments to EPA earlier this year in support of a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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