Your NPR news source

Drought prompts some lawmakers to examine ethanol mandate

The summer-long drought has led to smaller corn yields. Some lawmakers say less corn should go to ethanol production in order to lower food prices.

SHARE Drought prompts some lawmakers to examine ethanol mandate
Drought prompts some lawmakers to examine ethanol mandate

Drought stressed corn in western Tennessee this summer. The drought has caused smaller corn yields, driving up food prices.

Flickr/CraneStation

The federal government is mandated to dedicate a certain amount of the nation’s corn every year for ethanol production.

Some Illinois lawmakers say the Environmental Protection Agency should lower that amount this year because the summer-long drought has decimated the corn crop.

U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), who represents Illinois’ 10th district, said reducing the amount of corn dedicated to ethanol would help ease rising food prices.

“We want to make sure we’re keeping food prices down for the American public, certainly for our constituents, and this temporary suspension certainly seems to me to be something that makes sense,” Dold said.

U.S Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said he’s all for renewable fuels, but he said his constituents in the agriculture industry are calling this a historic drought. Shimkus said he isn’t necessarily opposed to the EPA altering their ethanol mandate.

“Let me put it this way, I would not shed a tear if they did it. I would understand if they did it,” Shimkus said.

Shimkus said ethanol production has decreased our dependence on foreign oil, but rising corn prices are making it more expensive for constituents to feed livestock.

He added the EPA has the authority to change the amount of corn going towards ethanol production under a law passed in 2007. Shimkus said if the EPA does not act, Congress probably won’t pass a law authorizing a suspension of the mandate anytime soon.

The Latest