Congressman Jim Matheson said the ongoing drought is bringing into sharp focus the failed U.S. energy policy that diverts corn into ethanol. He has joined with over a hundred bipartisan members of the House, calling on the administration to suspend the renewable fuel standard.
"It is past time for us to have a serious conversation about the federal government's role in supporting ethanol," said Matheson. Matheson is the lead on a letter from over 100 bipartisan House members to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last week.
"About 40% of the U.S. corn crop will be used for ethanol production. With increasing food and feed stocks being diverted into fuel, we're seeing diminished supplies for cattle, pigs and chickens. That means higher prices for livestock producers and anyone who eats," said Matheson.
Matheson said EPA has the authority to reduce the required volume of renewable fuel in any year, based on severe harm to the economy or environment of a state or region, or in the event of inadequate domestic supply of renewable fuel. Matheson has long been a critic of the renewable fuel mandate, which this year requires 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be in the U.S. fuel supply. He said that government mandate creates an artificial market for the ethanol industry which results in, among other things, pain at the grocery store for consumers.
News reports have noted that food prices have been creeping up throughout the country, as the drought affects crops in the nation's farm belt. The United Nation's index of cereal prices soared 17% last month, moving closer to the all-time high set in 2008.
Matheson said economists have noted that the combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead to more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth, even political instability.