Senators Take Aim at Corn Ethanol

Jul 23, 2021

Corn growers be like, “What just happened here?

A few short weeks after a bullish outlook on the future of ethanol, new legislation now has the corn industry feeling a little sheepish.

Refresher: Amid court setbacks less than a month ago that nixed year-round E15 sales and allowed more small refineries to apply ethanol blending exemptions, bipartisan legislators in key farm states introduced bills that would encourage higher ethanol blends. Things were looking up.

But this week, another group of senators has introduced legislation that seeks to fully eliminate the national ethanol blending mandate. We’re not in the Corn Belt anymore.

Citing a host of grievances, including the risk to good-paying oil refinery jobs, the bipartisan group did not mince words.

Senator soundbites:

  • “The federal government forcing Americans to buy billions of gallons of corn ethanol is terrible policy on many levels.” — Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • “The federal corn ethanol mandate no longer makes sense when better, lower-carbon alternatives exist.” — Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Playin’ politics: The day the bill was introduced, the White House announced the administration would delay the annual review process that determines biofuel blending requirements for petro products.

Mum was the official word, but insiders noted the delay was due to President Biden’s political catch-22 that has him stuck between two key blue-collar constituencies: farmers and refinery workers.

Where this goes: Long-term decisions are a ways off, but NCGA President John Linder quickly responded, echoing what is likely on the minds of most corn growers: “This bill is ill-conceived and would have a devastating impact on air quality, the diversity of our energy supply, fuel prices, and rural economies.”