Going Green

Saturday, May 31, 2008

U.S. Senator Cornyn on Ethanol

U.S. Senator John Cornyn has graciously provided the guest posting below.

Hello Panhandle Poet readers…it’s a privilege to guest post here.

I wanted to touch base with you regarding an issue which is very pressing in the Panhandle, ethanol.

When first introduced to the marketplace, it was hoped that ethanol would help revitalize rural America, lower the price we pay at the pump and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

That’s a worthy goal, yet the government’s focus on ethanol has produced a problem. There have been unintended adverse consequences to our economy from the focus on ethanol production. Chiefly, since February of 2006 the combined price of corn, wheat and soybeans has increased more than 416 percent.

For this reason and many more, I co-sponsored legislation which was introduced recently to freeze the renewable fuel standard corn-based ethanol mandate at current 2008 levels.

In the panhandle, like other places, the effect of ethanol production has been mixed. While a few have benefitted from it, a great many others have suffered.

As more and more farmers grow corn for ethanol production, cattle feeding ration prices have shot sky high. Mandates, along with the high cost of fuel, are squeezing every bit of profit out of cattle feedlots today.

As consumers continue to see rising food and fuel prices, freezing the corn-based ethanol mandate will allow us to re-evaluate the consequences of using food for fuel and determine the best way forward. Texas will remain a leader as we work to diversify our nation’s energy supply to include alternative and renewable sources, but in the meantime Congress must exercise its oversight role to ensure there are no further unintended consequences. A freeze of the mandate will allow time for necessary assessments and reduce increasing grocery, grain and feed prices.

Last year, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to waive the mandates, or adjust them as necessary to provide relief for consumers.

Last month, I joined Sen. Hutchison and others in sending a letter to EPA Administrator requesting an update on the pending rule-making process for the waiver of all or portions of the ethanol mandate passed by Congress in 2007. The letter also urged the EPA to consider the sharp rise in food prices as they review the mandate.

Freezing the mandate at its current level for one year is not a long term solution, but it is a good start towards finding one.

My heartfelt thanks go to the Senator for addressing this issue and for providing this post.

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