Concerned about steep increases in commodity prices, Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) joined a bipartisan letter this week to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of a temporary waiver of the federal ethanol mandate. This waiver is intended to help Virginia's agricultural community and consumers who have been hit hard by a dramatic rise in feed costs as a result of increased usage of corn-based ethanol.
The EPA has waiver authority to adjust the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which requires that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel, in the event of inadequate supplies or to prevent economic harm.
"While we believe the RFS will stimulate advanced biofuels to commercialization, adjusting the corn grain-ethanol mandate of the RFS can offer some relief from tight corn supplies and high prices," the senators wrote. "As stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yields lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers, and foodservice providers will become more severe."
In addition to the EPA letter, Senator Webb has worked to reduce rising energy prices for Virginia farmers and consumers. These initiatives include efforts to curb oil speculation that has artificially driven up the cost of gas and to lower the tariff on imported ethanol to help meet the ethanol-fuel mandate. Senators Webb and Warner have also consistently called for exploration of additional natural energy resources off the coast of Virginia.