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EPA’s Ethanol Reduction Would Affect Indiana Corn Farmers

The EPA is proposing a reduction in the amount of ethanol in gasoline, which would be detrimental to Indiana corn farmers.

corn

Photo: Ben Husmann (Flickr)

Farms grow corn in Indiana for both food consumption and ethanol production.

The federal government is proposing to reduce the amount of ethanol mandated in gasoline and with only a month left in the public comment period, the Indiana Farm Bureau is speaking out against the plan.

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency began requiring 10 percent of gasoline to be made up of  biofuels as a way to support a more sustainable fuel source, but the EPA now wants to scale back those requirements—although it isn’t saying by how much.

Professor of Agriculture Economics at Purdue University Wally Tyner says the plant material used to make ethanol—called cellulosic biofuels– is in short supply and too expensive to meet the EPA’s current standards.

“In 2013, it became clear that wasn’t going to work in the future,” Tyner said. “That they were going to have to, anytime they waived cellulosic biofuels, they were going to have to waive the overall mandate.”

Kyle Cline is the National Policy Adviser for the Indiana Farm Bureau.  He says reducing the ethanol mandate will be detrimental to Indiana corn farmers. The USDA estimates about 40 percent of corn grown in the U.S. goes to ethanol production. That boosts demand for corn and in turn increases corn prices.

“And what farmers have been able to do with that money is reinvest it back into their farms and get new technologies and new innovations and implement new practices that can improve environmental practices on the farm as well as in the water ways,” Cline said.

The EPA is accepting public comments on its proposal until Jan. 28, before it makes a final decision.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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  • James Gorman

    If energy sources were priced as a unit of energy instead as a commodity price of what they are (i.e. corn, oil, ngas, coal) the hybriding of energy sources would stop. Ethanol is a net energy looser – using energy in tractors to produce energy in corn wastes energy. The fact there is a gap between corn energy vs. oil energy, due to the commodity prices was the cost advantage. That gap is apparently shrinking.

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