Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn seeks to kill ethanol mandate

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who worked to kill the federal subsidies for ethanol production, has teamed up with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to end the government mandate on blending ethanol with gasoline.
by Chris Casteel Published: December 13, 2013
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— Sen. Tom Coburn, who fought to end the tax subsidy for ethanol production, is now pushing to kill the federal mandate that corn-based ethanol be blended into gasoline.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, has teamed up with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., his ally in the fight against ethanol subsidies, on a bill to end the mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard for using corn ethanol in gasoline.

“The time to end the corn ethanol mandate has arrived,” Coburn said Thursday.

“This misguided policy has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, increased fuel prices and made our food more expensive. Eliminating this mandate will let market forces, rather than political and parochial forces, determine how to diversify fuel supplies in an ever-changing marketplace.”

The mandate currently requires about 16 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended with gasoline; most of the resulting blends have 10 percent ethanol.

The law has required steadily increasing amounts of ethanol be used, and refiners say they're near the point where they would have to produce a blend with more than 10 percent ethanol to meet the mandate. Some car manufacturers and small engine makers have warned that a blend of 15 percent could harm engines and void warranties.

The Environmental Protection Agency, concerned about the so-called “blend wall,” recently rolled back a slightly higher mandate.

Feinstein said, “Under the corn ethanol mandate in the RFS, roughly 44 percent of U.S. corn is diverted from food to fuel, pushing up the cost of food and animal feed and damaging the environment.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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