The U.S. EPA gave a big, husky hug to corn ethanol Thursday, declining a request from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to reduce the amount of ethanol required to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard mandates that 9 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be poured into U.S. gas tanks this year — which will suck up about a third of the U.S. corn crop. The mandate jumps to 15 billion gallons by 2015 — if corn production holds steady, that will be about 55 percent of the corn supply. Perry requested a reduction because fuel demand for corn is driving up food prices and crimping the profits of livestock producers in his state. The RFS mandate has been linked to the surge in global food prices. But the EPA determined that the ethanol mandate has caused no harm to the U.S. economy or environment, but rather is “strengthening our nation’s energy security and supporting American farming communities.”