A bipartisan duo of U.S. senators have introduced a bill to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 was introduced Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is also a co-sponsor. The bill is similar to one introduced at the end of 2013 by Feinstein and then-Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
"A significant amount of U.S. corn is currently used for fuel. If the mandate continues to expand toward full implementation, the price of corn will increase. According to the Congressional Budget Office, that would mean as much as $3.5 billion each year in increased food costs. Americans living on the margins simply can't afford that," Sen. Feinstein said in a statement. "Our infrastructure has a ceiling for the amount of corn ethanol that can be used, and we're rapidly approaching it. Companies are physically unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for many gas stations and older automobiles."
With approximately 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop used to make ethanol fuel, the senators and others have expressed concern about the mandate's impact on food prices.
"The RFS requires fuel suppliers to blend millions of gallons of biofuels -- most often corn ethanol -- into the nation's gasoline supplies. It drives up gas prices, increases food costs, damages car engines, and is harmful to the environment," Sen. Toomey said in a statement.
The rise of 15-percent ethanol blends, also known as E15, also poses challenges for the boating industry as research has shown it to damage marine engines. While it is illegal to use E15 in a marine engine, there continue to be serious concerns about misfueling and mislabeling as boaters fill up at roadside stations -- as the majority do, according to a BoatUS survey of its members.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan bill to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard was also introduced in the U.S. House.