October 14, 2013

Regulatory Commissars: EPA to Scale Back Ethanol Mandate?

Not if the ethanol lobby has anything to say about it.

Last Friday, we reported that two senators are seeking to more strictly enforce the ethanol mandate, part of the Renewable Fuel Standard. But that doesn’t mean all is going according to plan. In fact, Reuters reports, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a proposal that would set next year’s target for use of renewable fuels at 15.21 billion gallons, less than the 18.15-billion gallon 2014 target established in the law.” Scaling back on a federal regulation? Paint us gold and call us Oscar.

Indeed, the EPA has gone so far as to punish oil companies for failing to use biofuels that weren’t even available. But as Hot Air’s Erika Johnsen writes, “The EPA has been heretofore undeterred in continually raising the requirements, but I suppose it must be getting harder to ignore that nobody but nobody except agribusiness and their associated Big Ethanol lobbyists are fans of ethanol – not oil companies, not environmentalists (and how often do those two groups unite?!), and certainly not American consumers paying higher food and gasoline prices as a consequence.”

About those Big Ethanol lobbyists: They’re not going to go quietly. The EPA reassured them that nothing is final and it’s only a “draft proposal.” But Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, called for “an immediate investigation by the Justice Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to determine if this was an attempt to manipulate markets such as corn futures, ethanol futures and/or RINS markets.” In other words, despite all the damage ethanol does to engines and food markets, the ethanol lobby isn’t about to let their sweet deal run out of gas.

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