Muckraker: Grist on Politics

More than 50 Republican representatives sent a letter [PDF] to the Environmental Protection Agency last week urging the agency to lower the mandate for ethanol production in response to both the recent flooding in the Midwest and drought in the South.

They argue that one-third of the country’s corn crop will be used for ethanol to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard, and while the weather this year will cause a decrease in supply of corn, the RFS will increase demand significantly.

“Domestic food prices are rising twice as fast as inflation and the rising price of basic commodities has been passed along to consumers,” they wrote. “The renewable fuel standard is a significant factor in the increased cost of commodities, which is causing severe economic harm for low-income Americans and livestock producers.”

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The RFS is part of the mandate in the energy bill passed by Congress last December, which calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be added to in the fuel supply by 2022. Fifteen billion of that is supposed to come from corn ethanol by 2015.