On Friday, Nov. 15, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed easing the annual Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirement for ethanol in gasoline, acknowledging that mandated levels specified in a 2007 law are difficult, if not impossible, to meet.
This reduced mandate comes after Assemblymember Kristin Olsen ushered Assembly Joint Resolution 21 (AJR 21) through the California legislature earlier this fall, calling on Congress to reduce the standard for the sake of the state’s dairies.
“This is a tremendous move in the right direction and I am elated that the EPA has recognized the unrealistic expectations of the current mandate,” said Olsen. “I’m looking forward to the relief our dairies will experience and am hopeful it will help them regain solid footing in providing for their livestock and our nation’s food supply.”
AJR 21 provided a clear message to Congress that California lawmakers support eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements, capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline, and urging the EPA to transition away from biofuel sources that compete with food production.
The price of corn and ethanol has risen dramatically in the last eight years. In August 2004, the market price for a bushel of corn was $2.40 but by August 2012, that amount had almost tripled to $6.28. As a result, California has lost an average of six dairies a month for the last six years.
The current RFS mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be part of our nation’s fuel supply by 2022. Almost all of this is currently being fulfilled by corn ethanol. In 2011, nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop was used for ethanol.
The new proposal by the EPA would set ethanol use at 15.21 billion gallons, just under 10 percent of motor fuel and 14 percent lower than 2007 targets established by Congress.
“This is great news and a remarkable win for our dairies, agriculture, restaurants and grocery stores,” said Olsen.
Assemblymember Olsen, R-Modesto, represents the 12th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties in the Central Valley.